Dear Dr. Meg,
Hi, I have a question for you. I have a 9-year-old daughter (almost 10). I can definitely tell we are going through some hormonal changes such as breast budding and mood swings. I am trying to very carefully correct or discipline behaviors and she gets so upset. She refuses to apologize and thinks everyone is wrong except herself. I try to explain to her that God allows me to be her mommy so I can teach her and guide her and families were meant to help each other grow. I need daddy to tell me when I’m getting a nasty mouth because sometimes we don’t even realize it. It’s not me hounding on her or that I think she’s SO bad, it’s just helping her to notice it’s not polite to talk that way or roll her eyes at people. My main concern is her unwillingness to apologize. When she does it’s because I ask her to but it’s not a genuine “I’m sorry”.
Mother Wanting Resolution
There is an answer for your daughter and it is, brain development. Most 9 or 10-year-old kids have difficulty understanding or admitting when they are wrong because psychologically they are profoundly egocentric. Additionally most lack the ability to see life from another person’s perspective because of cognitive immaturity. So, the good new is, that your daughter may not be a mean person; she is just immature.
Here’s what I would do. Do not continue to explain things to her because doing so frustrates you and her. Simply tell her that behaving in a rude manner toward people is against the rules of your home. You don’t roll your eyes at others and neither can she. Discipline her for rude behavior as you would for anything else.
Don’t worry about her apologies not being sincere. That takes a lot of maturity and if any of us waited to feel 100% sincere before we apologized, we might never say we’re sorry! Keep training her to do the right thing and eventually, her heart and mind will catch up with her behavior.