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17 October 2006


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These are things we've struggled with a lot at our house, too. We ended up requiring an apology for anything that ends up with someone crying. They have to say "Name, I'm sorry for ___-ing you." If it was an accident, they can throw that in there if they prefer. "I'm sorry you're hurt, but it was an accident."

This has been illuminating on a number of occasions. Imagine my surprise the first time I hear "Max, I'm sorry for pinching you on the ear when Mama wasn't looking" when I was expecting an apology for accidently bumping into him.

At any rate, we found that requiring them to name what they did wrong has kept it from being a meanless word rattled off, and it seems to make them more empathetic. I've heard the children ask for and receive heartfelt apologies when I am not in the room, and they don't realize I can hear them.

We use modeling for asking, and generally require "May I have ____ please?" We all, adults included, use this form all day every day, so I don't usually need to do any prompting in front of other adults. I use one of Popcak's suggestions and require the correct form, even if I'm going to say no.

Because we do this, as I say, pretty much all the time, I rarely correct them if they get it wrong. It is so second nature, they they usually say it right. I am lenient for small lapses. If I start to get demands or begging, I say "You are not being polite."

Reading over this, I think it sounds really strict. But it isn't in practice, it is just an emersive environment. I don't remember ever saying "You forgot the 'may I'" or sending someone to their room for not apologizing. That's just how things are here, which I guess means it is done in a natural way.

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I think I read something somewhere about this

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