I'm not sorry!

As my 21/2 year old son sat on his baby sisters head, while having covered it with a blanket, I tried to use the incident as a teachable moment. "We don't sit on anyone, and we don't place anything over their faces" I said calmly. "Your sister won't be able to breathe if you do that." Now to get him to say sorry, I thought!" I would like you to say sorry to your sister - not that his sister would understand she wasn't even a year old! "But I'm not sorry, me no say sorry" was his response. "When we do something to someone that's not nice or we hurt someone we say sorry. What you did to your sister could have really hurt her, so I want you to please say sorry!" Again he answers, "I'm not sorry, I didn't want a sister."

I had no idea what to do, he was being defiant I knew that but did he really mean he wasn't sorry? Did he just not understand because he was too young? This hit me thinking about why we say sorry. So if we do something and we are well aware we are doing it, and do it intentionally, should we really say sorry? I mean are we really sorry that we did it or just giving an apology cos that's what is expected or what they or we have been taught by parents. If our child rams a person’s legs’ at the grocery store with the shopping cart and we the adult says 'sorry' does it change the outcome? We didn't mean for our kids to ram them obviously, but it happened. Are we sorry for ramming them or for the pain caused by ramming them. I mean saying sorry doesn't take the pain away, or stop the bruising. Are we teaching our kids that the word sorry makes us feel less guilt or are we just so accustomed to doing it that it is automatic but really doesn't mean anything? Kind of like when ask someone we meet, "How are you?" This is just an automatic question, how many of us really listen to the answer? Do we even hear when the answer is "not great?"

I realized that if my son meant to sit on his sister’s head then what is the point of me telling him to apologize? If I had gotten into a power struggle, over demanding that apology, what was I really teaching him? That he has to do something he doesn't want or feel necessary, but because I am bigger than him I can force him to.

Sorry is a word that should be sincere. It should be said because you feel remorse for your actions not because you feel forced or guilted into it. I learned at that moment that teaching kids about actually making an apology was something different than just saying the word sorry. Making an apology should come from the heart and be said with compassion. An explanation of what you are actually apologizing for is taking responsibility and being accountable because you really are sorry. Saying sorry for accidentally running or bumping into someone is the right thing to do. But when you purposefully go out of your way to hurt someone or when you lose control, then does the word sorry really cut it?

Author's Bio: 

I am a Law of Attraction Life Coach and a Counselor

I have many years of experience working with children and parents in the Children’s Aid facilitating the PRIDE course. I have worked in a group home setting and school setting. My experience covers facilitating peer groups of school age children, a peer support group of pregnant teens. Many years of my experience has been working with special needs kids, with mild intellectual delays to many variations of the Autism spectrum. I am the proud, sole parent of 2 terrific teens.

I help families become happier and healthier by empowering and teaching parents and children better communication skills, positive parenting strategies and the importance of healthy lifestyle choices.