The girls and I were leaving Target a couple of days ago, and we saw a grandma wrestling a four-year old little girl out of the cart and into the car. The little girl was screaming and crying, and the grandma was saying, "I'm sorry, honey," over and over.
My guess is that the grandma hadn't accidentally whacked the kid in the head, but rather that she hadn't allowed her a toy, or a slushee, or to walk in the parking lot, or whatever it was the kid wanted.
In life, learning to say, “I’m sorry” is an important skill, and it’s a big part of being a parent, too.
“I’m sorry you don’t feel well.”
“I’m sorry your toy broke.”
“I’m sorry it’s raining and we can’t go outside.”
“I’m sorry I stepped on your toe.”
“I’m sorry I raised my voice.”
One thing I’ve had to break myself of, though, is apologizing for imparting a punishment.
As someone is being marched to timeout for breaking a rule, I have to remind myself not to say, “I’m sorry.”
The truth is, I’m sorry that the rule has been broken, I’m sorry that our playtime is being interrupted, and I’ve very sorry that the following three minutes may be very excruciating for all of us…
…but I’m not sorry that you’re being punished.
You do the crime, you do the time.
If I tell you that you can have one cookie, and you cry for another, I will not say, “I’m sorry.”
The rules of engagement were clearly outlined when we sat down for this special treat. I’m sorry that you’re upset, I’m sorry that your fussing is likely clouding the enjoyment I know you had from eating the one cookie…
…but I’m not sorry that you can’t have two cookies.
One of the things I really like about the 1-2-3 Magic method of discipline is that it aims to put the onus on the child for her actions. The rules are outlined, and she has three chances (in most cases) to mind them. If she chooses to break the rules, then she must pay the consequences.
It helps keep the parent’s emotion out the situation, and I think it helps teach children that they are responsible for their behavior.
Saying “I’m sorry” in a disciplinary situation has been a tough habit to break. I hate, hate, hate to see my babies upset, no matter what happened…but in addition to teaching my girls responsibility for their actions, I want to save my “I’m sorry’s” for when their meaning is true. And that’s another valuable lesson, I hope.