Last week I talked about NOT making your children say "I'm sorry" and I referred to what I call 'action apologies.' Action apologies teach children to SHOW that they know what they did was wrong. When child X has done something wrong to child Y in my house, I want X to make it up to Y, not just with a verbal apology, but with actions as well. Whenever feasible I ask Y what X can do to make things right. If Y suggests something unreasonable I take on the role of mediator. More often Y will say something like "that's ok" or "we're fine" or even "I dunno." That never gets X off the hook. No matter how dramatic Xs apology, words are not enough for me.
My solution is one I learned from Pat Miller [Texas] another parenting trainer [and coauthor on my current book project]. It is the rule of Three Kind Acts.
Whenever there is no clear or offered action to make things right between two warring factions..... [oops]... I mean two squabbling children.... the errant child [X] is required to do three kind acts for the victim [Y]. Until that happens child X is not in my good graces or anyone else's.
These kind acts can be as simple as clearing Ys dirty dishes from the table, making Ys bed, or bigger things for bigger offenses. [One of my kiddos has a specialty of giving back rubs that are prized!] Usually by the completion of the third kind act, most if not all is forgiven.
Try instituting a Three Kind Acts rule. It reminds everyone that actions and words always have consequences. Poor choices lead to negative consequences. Good or generous choices can sometimes heal damage. And, for many children action apologies can be easier than verbal apologies.
Besides.... being required to do kind acts for a person you have wronged is not a bad place to begin. Kindness grows kindness. Not a bad harvest to be working toward.
I am a lifelong educator, writer and author, a foster, bio, and adoptive parent, happy mom of five daughters, Grandma to six, Nana to four, and church and theater musician. Oh yes, and all-round optimistic, crazy lady.