Was it Dorothy or Alice?

Apologise? Apologise? Apologise for what?

Was it Dorothy or Alice?

There is a line in either The Wizard of Oz or Alice in Wonderland – I can’t remember so maybe you will know – where the character exclaims “Apologise? Apologise? Apologise for what?!”

They are rather indignant at the thought of having to apologise for something that they clearly believe they shouldn’t have to. They see no error in their ways and therefore, no need to apologise.

I remember having a conversation with a colleague when I was a teacher.  They were telling me of an incident that had happened in their classroom.  It turned our that they were in fact in the wrong and had accused an innocent child of being involved in a situation that they were no where near.  I knew this for a fact as said child had been with me.

This poor child had tried to explain that the teacher was in fact wrong – red rag to a bull – and the end result was that they were sitting outside of the Headteachers office because they had yelled at the teacher for not listening to them or believing them.

I asked the teacher when they were going to apologise to the child for getting it wrong.  They told me that they wouldn’t be apologising as they didn’t see that they had done anything wrong, “And anyway, that child is always in trouble, so they have probably done something that they haven’t been caught for yet.”

Needless to say that this incident and many more like it resulted in a very poor relationship between this teacher and student.  One that would erupt on most days.

A lot of adults believe that they do not need to apologise to children.  They believe that their children should respect them regardless as they are the adult and the child, is well, a child.

The problem with this ego stroking attitude is that when it comes to situations where the parents want to understand their children and have a relationship that is not fractured and explosive – usually in their teen years – the child has little to no respect for their parent.

Often parents will say that their child has no remorse for what they have said or done.  They don’t apologise for the way they speak, the way they act towards others.  And when asked to apologise, they simply don’t.

Let’s level with each other here.  Often adults don’t like apologising to children because they are embarrassed that they have made a mistake.  They fear that they will look like a fool in the eyes of their children.  Or that they will lose the respect of their children by apologising to them.

And the actual opposite of that is true.  You will gain more respect, build more trust and model to you children that no one is above apologizing. 

You don’t need to throw yourself on the floor, wail and punish yourself to make your apology.

You could use these 3 steps:

  1. 1. Sit down with your child
  2. 2. Explain you have made a mistake
  3. 3. Say, I am sorry.  Could you forgive me?

It may feel a bit weird the first time.  However it is the first step in building that trust and respect with your children.

Oh and if you do happen to know which character utter those words, “Apologise? Apologise? Apologise for what?!