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Apologies from a 2 year old

(12 Posts)
rattling Sat 28-May-11 20:23:59

I have twin boys, just turned 2. They are mostly pretty well behaved and get on fairly well, so I've rarely had reason for any kind of punishment. We have occasionally (probably 2-3 times each?) put them outside the kitchen (other side of stairgate, can still see us) at mealtimes if they start messing about to the extent they wind the other one up. That has only ever been for seconds, they come back, settle down nothing more is said.

But twice now I've had to put DS1 outside the livingroom, closing the door on him because he has headbutted his brother. He has used his head when he was angry since he was a baby, now if they are arguing over something (and his hands are therefore occupied in trying to wrestle it away) he sees his head as an alternative weapon to use. I mostly ignore their little squabbles, separate if it gets heated, but these 2 occasions the headbutting happpened unexpectedly and to my mind is well beyond what is acceptable so DS1 is dumped outside while I give DS2 a cuddle (he has a head like a rock it seems, has never been as bothered by this as he is at losing a tug-of-war over a toy).

But what should I do when DS1 comes back? I feel an apology is in order, but they are emotionally quite young - they were 2 months premature which physically seemed irrelevant from the end of year one, but behaviourally it seems more accurate to use their corrected age. So he doesn't have the language, not sure he has the understanding. I can get him to give his brother a hug and kiss, but his brother doesn't really want grabbed and slobbered on. They sign quite well, but have no interest in the sign for sorry - does it just not mean much at that age?

I'll probably just carry on telling him what he did wrong, asking him to give me a hug, but I'd welcome other suggestions and ideas when this might start to mean something to him.

RuthChan Sat 28-May-11 20:40:18

Different children learn the meaning of sorry at different ages.
My DS is now 2.6. He says sorry very easily (often too easily). I'm sure he knows what it means, although he doesn't always seem to mean it when he says it.
I think it's a good idea to encourage children to say sorry to each other, even before they understand its true meaning. It both encourages them to say the word and I think it also helps them to begin understanding what it means and how to use it.

hefferlump Sat 28-May-11 21:50:01

I agree with RuthChan ...... you'll know when they understand its meaning when they strat to refuse point blank to say it LOL

candr Sun 29-May-11 19:24:04

They are still old enough to say sorry as you are right the offended child often does not want a hug after being hit. You can get the offender to go ovr with a toy to share as an olive branch but the more you encourage a verbal 'sorry' the better they will get at sing it just make sure they learn the tone of voice (not a sing song I don't mean it voice) They do at that age understand the time out method so keep it up x

LaWeasel Sun 29-May-11 19:46:58

DD had trouble at this age with sorry, she just wasn't interested in saying it, but was starting to get into the hitting phase which was extremely frustrating.

In the end I decided to put her to bed if she wouldn't apologise because she seemed to be at a stage of lashing out when she was over tired, and pushing for an apology that wasn't going to come was only useful in that in drilled in the message that she should be saying it, but that getting some sleep helped her behaviour.

I have no idea if it was the right thing to do, but it worked for us, and she knows she has to say sorry now (although I doubt she really means it!)

skybluepearl Sun 29-May-11 20:17:05

i wouldn't push for an appologie but how about shaking hands if brother doesn't want a cuddle? time oout after head but is ideal - minimum attention to naughty child.

Tgger Sun 29-May-11 20:29:45

They do need to learn to say sorry at some point, but if they are not ready- don't understand etc I wouldn't bother. Certainly discipline to show that it's not right and if a hug seems appropriate and is given easily then fine, but if not, I wouldn't worry about it.

I get my 2.5 year old DD to say sorry and have done for a few months, but perhaps not that many. Probably only in the last few months she's started to understand it.

MoonFaceMamaaaaargh Mon 30-May-11 12:00:58

Controversial maybe considering other replies given but i can't help but think that saying sorry when they don't mean it is lying. We all tell white lies but in this instance surely they are learning to do it to save their own skin rather than someone elses blushes.

I'd spend time talking about the consequence of what they did (eg x is sad/hurt) rather than trying t o coax an apology. If they seem sorry explain that they couldsay so so that the other person understands that they are sad about what they did. Andas the parent model saying sorry by apologising to them as appropriate.

MmeLindor. Mon 30-May-11 12:06:11

I agree with Moonface.

A forced apology is no apology.

It is like a politician apologising if his remarks had offended anyone.

Until they have the understanding, there is no use forcing it. We always asked the DC to say sorry, but did not dwell on it if they refuse. I would ask them to draw a nice picture for their sibling.

They learn from us so keep using the words, they will learn it in time.

ArsumLardis Mon 30-May-11 12:12:30

I look at it as manners & social graces & necessary habits. You say sorry even if you don't mean it because it's the right thing to do. Just like don't eat all the biscuits, & they must have their noses wiped & use the toilet even though it's not with sincere enthusiasm.

tomhardyismydh Mon 30-May-11 12:12:53

i wouldnt force an appologie a cuddle and agreement to be kind I think is enough. My dd would do these things but wouldnt budge on an appologise so I didnt ask her to ever give one as it became a separate battle of its own. My dn wouldl hit bite and squeeze my dd all the time early intervention is key in situations like this, not always possivbe but you will learn to quickly read the signs and step in.

MoonFaceMamaaaaargh Mon 30-May-11 13:26:53

"you say sorry if you don't mean it just because it's the right thing to do" but you see i don't think that's true. You might apologise to get out of an uncomfortable situation but i don't think there is anything moral or "right" about that.

Yes you could spend time making your dc's apologise in order to instill a habit. But imo every time you do that you miss an opportunity to develop their emotional intelligence. They might not see why they should apologise. They might not feel it's owed. They might be right. But they might say it just to shut you up. They learn nothing.

Manners are learnt by example imo. I worked in restaurants for years taking orders from all sorts of families. "Well mannered" parents invariably had well mannered dc's. Them there would be parents who snapped at dc's to say please and thank you but didn't do it themselves. Clearly all their nagging was for nothing in the face of the example they set. Set the example and don't expect too much to young. Let it come when they care about why they are saying it rather than just saying it to avoid getting told off.

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