That is what we should be saying to our children. Or partners. Other humans. When we force an apology from them. ‘Say sorry even if you don’t mean it so you can satisfy my ego and allow me to feel right, and make you wrong!”

Forcing apologies is teaching our children to say what they do not mean in the sake of politeness, diffusing emotions or really, making parents feel comfortable because little Johnny pulled Suzies hair, because Suzie kept trying to make him play with the barbie doll. Johnny!! Say sorry!

I mean, what the fuck did we just teach Suzie? That its ok to try and force someone to do what they don’t want to do, and then, they are made to say sorry because the way they reacted to the situation was physical?

Ideally, Johnny’s feelings about the control would need to be acknowledged, and Suzie’s feelings about the hair pulling would need to be acknowledged. Next Suzie would need to apologise for her behaviour, trying to make Johnny do what he did not want to do. And Johnny would need to apologise for his behaviour, pulling Suzies hair. And then we could move to the logical task of where to from here. The agreements. Problem solving.

Sounds easy huh. That’s a joke, it is not easy! Some days I just want to yell FFS you guys! Quit it already! Maybe, maybe some days I do yell that.

I am no psychologist but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that forcing kids to say what they don’t mean, can take them to be the adult saying sorry for things to shut their wives up. Whilst they continue the behaviour because they did not know how to deal with the control that came from all the little, and big Suzies in the world. And Suzy possibly growing up to feel at fault for anyone that physically assaulted or abused her. Its a delicate area I know.

Conflict in children, this is a huge one that I am not always sure how to deal with. it makes me uncomfortable. Its something I am committed to learning more about, and practising this year. But one thing, I will never force my child to say sorry for something they are not sorry about. I would rather teach her how her behaviour affected someone else. And furthermore, I will never teach her to say sorry for how someone else feels, that would be saying that we have control on another’s feelings. We do not.

So lets teach by showing, the art of apologies about our behaviour only. Never anothers feelings.

Here’s some ways I do encourage apologising for

  • I am sorry for being rude
  • I am sorry for ignoring you
  • I am sorry for raising my voice towards you
  • I am sorry for not considering the effect on you
  • I am sorry for speaking up effectively
  • I am sorry for betraying your confidence in me
  • I am sorry for throwing your toy
  • I am sorry for not having patience with you
  • I am sorry for not looking after your bike
  • I am sorry I did not keep my word


verb: apologise

  1. express regret for something that one has done wrong.”I must apologize for disturbing you like this”synonyms:say sorry, express regret, be apologetic, make an apology, ask forgiveness, beg (someone’s) forgiveness, ask for pardon, beg (someone’s) pardon; informaleat humble pie, eat one’s words

adjectiveadjective: sorry; comparative adjective: sorrier; superlative adjective: sorriest

  1. 1.feeling sad or distressed through sympathy with someone else’s misfortune.”I was sorry to hear about what happened to your family”synonyms:sad, unhappy, sorrowful, distressed, upset, depressed, downcast, miserable, downhearted, disheartened, dejected, down, despondent, despairing, disconsolate, broken-hearted, heartbroken, inconsolable, grief-stricken Moreantonyms:glad, unsympathetic
    • filled with compassion for.”I felt sorry for the poor boys working for him”
  2. 2.feeling regret or penitence.”he said he was sorry he had upset me”synonyms:regretful, remorseful, contrite, repentant, rueful, penitent, conscience-stricken, apologetic, abject, guilty, guilt-ridden, self-reproachful, bad, ashamed, shamefaced, sheepish, in sackcloth and ashes, afraid; rarecompunctious”I’m sorry if I was a bit brusque”

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