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March 20, 2012

I Will Not Say, "I'm Sorry"

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.


Charlene said...

Love this post are such a great Mom!

Deanna said...

YES!! I am a chronic "aplogizer"'s my first reaction to everything. I have had to focus on NOT saying "I'm sorry" for things that are out of my control for years, and punishment is an area I should probably think about as well.

Amanda said...

I agree...I always feel horrible punishing my kids but I remind myself I am doing them a favor in helping teach them right from wrong and that their are consequences for poor choices- Nothing to apologize for!

Marcia (123 blog) said...

Agree with Charlene - you are a great mom!

Barbara Manatee said...

Great post and thoughts!! Now that you say this, I have to wonder if/how often I say that when I shouldn't for the same reasons? Hmmm....going to have to be more conscious about that...

PJ said...

Yea, seriously! What ever happened to just saying "no" and that is that? Why do some parents feel the need to totally explain thier actions to their children, every time? Much less, apologize. I am pretty sure the words, "because I said so" will be part of my parenting vocabulary.

123 Magic is ok. I've used it in my classroom before - years and years ago. In fact, I count to get my (2nd grade) students to do stuff... "by the time I get to 1, you need to be ready to _______", and it works like a charm. I think I got that from 123 Magic.

What I've learned though, is that you need a toolbag of tricks, and that one method may not work for all kids. You do what works.

northsidefour said...

Such a very good point, and one I am still learning. And even now, when I say I'm sorry, I try to always remember to say "I'm sorry you are upset" but holy smokes kiddo, what were you thinking? Now, to keep my emotions in check...when they walk into the street without looking.

Anonymous said...

love this post :) i call these the non-negotiables. i won't apologize for anything having to do with health or safety. and danger is another non-negotiable.

i've noticed that B says "okay?" a lot. that's another one that i consciously decided not to say if there is really not a choice. for example, he'll say, "let's get into your car seats, okay?" for me, there's no room for negotiation there, so i'll just say, "time to get into your car seats." :) sometimes it takes awhile to break yourself of a habit, right?

Julia said...

So insightful, Mandy! You're so right----we should not be sorry for disciplining our children!

As a chronic "I'm sorrier" I am thankful that you've brought an awareness of this to me. I want to be mindful of this. Thank you!