It’s better to appeal to a child’s honor than to force an insincere apology

“Tell your sister you’re sorry.”

“Apologize to Evan for breaking his pencil.”

Regardless of the setting — either at home or in the classroom — the only guarantee I could count on is that the resulting apology would be halfhearted and insincere. Furthermore, it would never lead to what I really wanted: a change in behavior.

For 34 years I taught in public schools. During eleven of those years, I co-parented my partner’s children from his previous…