Apology

This is the last entry I’m going to write in reference to the list of characteristics of kids with behavior problems. While I’m only writing about two of them, there are actually sixteen listed in the first lesson of the program. Each one is so important that it could have an entire chapter devoted just to it and I could certainly write a month worth of bog entries about it, but I want to move on to other concepts explored in the material.

The characteristic for discussion in this entry is that of False Apologies. When James Lehman was describing these on the CD, I was thinking how well the observation also applied to adults. As you read this entry, by all means don’t restrict yourself to thinking about kids. Think about significant others, co-workers, neighbors, and relatives because it describes them also.

The False Apology is when someone uses the phrase, “I’m sorry, but…” Of course, the word “but” completely negates the first part that sounded like an apology. Following the “but” is always an excuse which usually entails blaming someone else for the action. Then you are right back to a lack of accountability. More precisely, the person who committed the offensive act is right back to a lack of accountability.

Although it wasn’t mentioned in the program, another type of false apology is the classic, “I’m sorry if you were offended,” or “I’m sorry if you were upset” which means that the person isn’t sorry for the word or deed at all and wishes he or she wasn’t being aggravated by your reaction.

Anyway, I love the way James Lehman teaches his clients to eliminate false apologies from parent-child interactions. He instructs people to use the much more powerful and meaningful phrasing of, “I was wrong and next time I’ll…”

I think every parent and teacher should immediately adopt that strategy. It assigns the blame where it belongs and includes its own action plan. That’s a powerful difference.

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