How To Make Your Child Sorry

Hanging BearDo you have a child who will never back down, say sorry or admit to being in the wrong - even when they are caught red handed?  The sort of child that will argue the toss and wear you down until you do start to wonder if you could be mistaken?  Make you wonder if you really did imagine seeing your child:

  • hit another child;
  • kick the kitchen cupboard;
  • put custard in the washing machine;
  • steal from your purse;
  • superglue all the fruit to the bottom of the fruit bowl;
  • stick their tongue out at you;
  • drop-kick the dog.

Feel free to add to this list.

I was such a child and now, as an adult, I understand intellectually that this behaviour stems from fear.  Fear of consequence.  However, even when it is made safe for the truth to flow, does your child still resist?

A close friend of mine is going through this frustrating period, and one I also experienced when my own brood were younger.  The apple, the tree and all of that.

A method which worked for me was to have a ‘Sorry Bear’.  It was a small, porcelain, kitsch and quite ugly thing so it does not matter what your ‘Sorry Bear’ of choice is.  It need not even be a bear.  How it worked was that any of the protagonists could present the bear to the other (or leave it in a prominent place for the other to find) and the agreed meaning was:

“While not admitting to any wrong-doing, may we please draw a line and start again.”

It was further understood that the contention in question was not to be discussed again that day.

99% of the time, and after a night’s sleep, everyone felt a bit more rational and willing to hear the other out and, usually, the truth did out.  Even if it doesn’t, your child has, in affect, made some small concession.  This is more progress than the total impasse of before.

Given the 0 to 60 explosions which can occur with our children when they enter The Gibberish Generation (tweens and teens), I had a mind to try and reinstate ‘The Sorry Bear’.  Miracles of miracles it still worked.  However, for real effectiveness, I had to update the conditions on the use of the bear for this older age group:

  • The bear cannot be slammed down onto the table with a toss of the head and subsequent flouncing off and banging of doors.

  • The bear cannot be hung from the kitchen ceiling with simulated blood dripping into the porridge.  (Edit: … with simulated or REAL blood dripping into …).

  • The bear’s fingers should not be fashioned into ‘giving the finger’.

  • The bear should not be jettisoned or otherwise thrown at another’s head, causing potential concussion and a visit to the emergency room.

  • The bear should not voodoo like have 1000 pins stuck into it and a photo of ‘the enemy’ glued thereto.

  • The bear should not be crushed into powder and laced into another’s tea.

  • The bear should not be impregnated with a recording device taped to repeat obscenities.  “Die, Die” is considered an obscenity.

  • The bear should not be urinated upon before presentation.

  • The bear can be urinated upon before presentation if the alternative is to pooh onto the bear before presentation.

  • There is to be no simulated drowning of the bear for later televising or podcasting.

  • The bear should not, literally, be forcibly and angrily rammed down a teenager’s throat in order to make them see sense. (Okay, that one was for me.)

However, the biggest difference to the meaning of 'The Sorry Bear' in these teenage years has to be:

“I love you.  This phase will pass and we will be able to get back to the loving days of the early years.  We will laugh and enjoy each other again.  Most of all, we will bridge this gap which neither of us want to divide, conquer or derail our happy future together.”

HMS HerMelness Speaks

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