If my son, L, who is 4, was a telephone, “I sorry” would be in the number one spot on his speed dial. I think he says this more than anything else right now. Actually, it comes out more like “I sowwy.”
Me: ”L, did you write on the ceiling of the van with that colored pencil?”
L: ”yeah, I sowwy.”
Me: ”L, did you climb up your dresser to get this picture off your shelf?! Do NOT do that, do you want the dresser to fall on you?”
L: ”okay, I sowwy”
Me: ”Do not pick up french fries out of the parking lot and eat them! That is so disgusting. Do you want to get some kind of disease?”
L: ”I sowwy. What’s a disease?” (I think he thought it was something else he could eat)
Me: ”Do not hit your friend with the light saber. Say you’re sorry.”
This evening after dinner, his sister, A, says, “Mom, guess what L did with his crayon on….” and before she could finish the sentence, he is screaming “sowwy, sowwy, sowwy.”
I am beginning to realize that I am failing to help L understand what I’m sorry means. He thinks that by saying these magical words it is his free ticket out of trouble-ville, but I want him to understand that they are not just words that excuse him from bad behavior.
Saying I’m sorry means taking responsibility for bad behavior and taking steps to improve or correct it. By letting L just say he’s sorry without helping him understand why he’s saying these words and what he can do to improve the behavior, I am missing out on some very important teachable moments (one of my husband’s favorite sayings).
Going forward I will let him know that it’s okay to make mistakes and say I’m sorry, but we are going to have a little talk about why we are sorry and what we can do the next time to improve the behavior.
And, L, for just coming to this realization ….”I sowwy.”