Repair and Apologies With Kids Do Not Have To Be Forced

Sometimes, repair and apologies take their own creative path.  

I have refrained as much as possible from forcing my child to say "I'm sorry" because I have always wanted her to rely on her own conscience in the process of learning how her actions affect others, without my opinion or judgments clouding her sense of self.  

Repair is the process of reconnecting after hurt feelings, angry words or unacceptable behaviors.  

Sometimes repair with my 7.5 year old is messy, sloppy and tearful and sometimes it takes a silent path - an exchange of notes with heartfelt words meant to establish a re-connection.  

I enjoy the silent exchanges. I learn so much about what she's feeling when I don't press - but simply open up the space for the conflict to resolve without blame.

To be able to say what we feel without fear, shame or rejection provides the opportunity for growth. When I was young, I would often write letters to express my feelings. My parents encouraged it saying, "You express yourself so well through writing."

That's because writing didn't involve an immediate response from your audience. Sending off a note with your heart on your sleeve while you are safely hiding in your bedroom is much less risky than a face-to-face interaction - especially for a kid with Aspergers, who is super-sensitive to the reactions of others.

No one can yell at you, judge you, reject you or shame you without writing back, and by that time you have had enough time to wrestle with the choice to read it or not. 

My daughter and I had a disagreement the other day.

Below, I have posted a photo of our exchange following my decision to remove myself from the situation. It wasn't the disagreement that was causing the conflict, but she was feeling irritated, and the conversation quickly descended into, "Well I don't do it that way, that's for stupid people. I don't like you. I don't like you!"  

I tried to stay empathetic but sensing her resistance, I let the natural consequences unfold without getting huffy at the perceived "disrespect." 

I calmly left the room. I wasn't going to listen to her calling me names, and I also recognized that neither of us was in a place to discuss it right then.

About 15 minutes later, this series of notes was passed back and forth in silence, and it ended with a big hug.

ML: I love you. Do you love me? Rite a note back here
ME: I love you so much my heart might burst. I don't like when I am called stupid, but I loooooove you! Do you like me? Write a note back here.

ML: Yes I do. (in heart) P.S. I am sorry.
I didn't need to deliver lectures or consequences. I just needed to confidently and compassionately stand up for myself. 

My child is learning how her behavior affects others, and she naturally desires to correct it when needed.

What sweet apologies have your kids made to you? Share your stories in the comments below!

Talk soon,

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