Forcing Your Kid To Apologize And Hug The Other Kid
2 years, 2 months.
In yesterday’s “Asking A Toddler Why They Did Something Wrong” I explained how you got in trouble at school yesterday for throwing a toy at a friend, hitting them in the face and leaving a mark. I also explained how you were disciplined for it.
So today is the direct sequel to that story.
When I was a kid, I hated having to apologize and hug “the other kid” when I hurt them.
I didn’t like that it was forced. I would think to myself, “This obviously isn’t a real hug. I’m only saying I’m sorry because I have to. This is stupid.”
Now that I’m the parent, having you apologize to and hug your victim was the first thing I made you do once you got to school today and saw “the other kid.”
Turns out, though, “the other kid” just so happens to be one of your very best friends, Sophie Culpepper. I have mentioned her here on The Dadabase more than any other friend.
In other words, she’s no generic kid without a face or name. From you and her playing at your 2nd birthday party, all the way back to November 2011 when I first wrote a story about you two, you both have been buddies this whole time.
So this morning as I was unstrapping you from you car seat, I whispered to you, as if I was some divine voice from above trying to subconsciously place the idea in your head:
“Today, you need to apologize to Sophie and give her a hug.”
When we arrived in the classroom, I placed you on the floor next to Sophie. I whispered my divine instructions to you again, with Sophie’s mom watching too.
You froze. You usually do when we cross over from “family mode” to “school mode.”
I’m going to assume that after the parents went away, you did what I asked of you. Sure, it may just be wishful thinking.
But I know you really are sorry about what happened. I’ve learned here recently when you get in trouble with Mommy and I before leaving for school, you’ll be quiet the whole trip. Then, as I’m taking you inside to KinderCare, you will say with shame, “I listen to Mommy.”
(Translation: “I will listen to you and Mommy next time, instead of freaking out about not getting to watch Mater’s Tall Tales when it’s time to go.”)
If it’s true you hurt the ones you love the most, then I, in some strange way, can understand that your first victim of a toy-to-the-face throw had to be your best girl friend.
After all, you’ve grown up with Sophie in your daycare. She’s so much like a sister to you. If I did the math, you might even spend more waking hours with her than I am able to spend with you myself.
So yes, a forced apology and hug may seem a bit awkward to you, but those things help you to understand that hurting others comes with consequences; not just physical, but emotional.
Like I said yesterday, I know that it’s challenging right now for you to understand your emotions, but when you hug the person you have hurt, it helps send a message of emotional healing in the relationship.
Better are forced apologies and hugs than ignoring the offense all together. However, I know that the more I force them on you, the more natural and sincere they will become.