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After discipline, my son expects an apology!
Q: My 4-year-old wants us to apologize after disciplining him. He won't listen to me unless I say sorry. I don’t, and that frustrates him more. With this behavior he talks back quite a bit. I put him in time-out, but it doesn’t help. How do I get this in control and gain respect from him?
A: I wonder if you didn’t innocently get into this predicament by first saying to your son before disciplining him, something like: “I’m sorry but you misbehaved and now have to go to your room.”

Whatever the circumstances, you and your husband need to sit down and list the basic rules you want your son to follow.

Next, make up a list of logical consequences for each rule. For example, if he rides his bike in the street he’s not allowed to ride his bike the next day.

Once you and your husband have your rules and consequences clear, sit down with your son for a talk. Have the rules written out in colorful print with simple language. Post them on the refrigerator. By doing this you make it perfectly clear what you expect of your son. In the beginning, make a point of reviewing the rules once each day so he can better remember them.

At some point your son will insist that you apologize because you followed through on some consequence. At this time, inform your son that apologies are for when people make mistakes, and that you and Dad have not made any mistakes. You have just let him know he broke a rule.

Expect your son to rebel when he hears this explanation because he’s used to having his own way. Ignore his complaints and follow through with your consequence. If he continues to insist on an apology say to him: “You have two minutes to stop arguing. I’m setting the kitchen timer. If you have not stopped by the time the bell goes off, you’re going to bed tonight one hour earlier.”

Your little boy thinks he’s another adult in the house, and he’s trying to be the boss. You and your husband have to show him that he’s the child, and that you know best. Do not give his pleas for an apology any attention. This approach is called “planned ignoring.”

Kenneth N. Condrell Ph.D Child Psychologist