Strong Emotional Intelligence (EQ) help you get along with others. The earlier your child learns to apologize for hurtful behavior the better.
Children can start learning to apologize as soon as you start using time out for violation of the of The Rule of Respect. That rule? Respect all living creatures.
Jo Frost teaches ending time out by having the child apologize: “Once your child has completed the agreed set time on the Naughty Step, crouch down so you’re on the same level, use a low and authoritative tone of voice, and explain why you put her there. Ask her to apologize, and when she does, praise her warmly with a kiss and a cuddle. Say ‘thank you’, go back to what you were doing and forget about the incident. ”
Before the child can talk, the above assures s/he will begin learning the rules needed to get along in life. Even if s/he does not fully understand the words, stopping the behavior, punishing it and then giving a hug and cuddle will end her hurt and your anger. The relationship pain caused by the punishment will be healed.
As the child grows into greater understanding, two things need to be taught. The first: what accidental means, but that it still needs an apology. Do this by not punishing accidents. Explain you know it was not planned behavior, but also demand an apology.
The second: Apologies must be sincere. This is more difficult to teach, but having the child tell you when apologizing what s/he did that was wrong starts the process.
What if the child smiles when apologizing, ask “Why are you smiling?”
Sometimes, the smile is happiness at being out of time out, but you need to make sure. Sometimes it is a nervous smile, because the child is not clear on what s/he did wrong. Repeat what was wrong, how it was hurtful, and then give the hug.
As always what you model is what your child learns best. So think about the last time you apologized. Also think about the last time someone felt your behavior was hurtful. Did you apologize or not?
Bonding grows between people when hurts are acknowledged. What about unavoidable hurts we inflict on each other? Think of a child needed a painful shot or more simply not getting what s/he wants for any number of reasons?
Then a quick apology is still in order. Here’s one: “I’m sorry we cannot stay at the playground longer, but I have to get home to make dinner.”
Another? “I know you hate time out. I am sorry about that, but my most important job is teaching you right from wrong. What you did was wrong and you need to sit and think about how to do better.”
THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO
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OTHER LINKS OF INTEREST
These links are for those not familiar with Emotional Intelligence or the idea of Emotional Fitness.