Hard to say I’m sorry

My son is “serving time” in his crib for biting his sister. It’s the second time this week he’s left a visible mark on a part of her body. The first time, he drew blood. And he’s the younger one of the two.


I know this isn’t by far the worst it will get as a parent. (We avoid the “p” word around here … ya know, puberty. That’s years away but we still dread it.)

But it’s frustrating. There’s no real rhyme or reason. We send him to timeout, which works, kind of. He resists timeout, but he’s willing to hug his sister afterwards.

He WILL NOT, however, say the words “I’m sorry.” He’s 2. And his vocabulary is such that he can it say but chooses not to.

Tonight, as he protested, “but I can’t” when I asked him to tell his sister he was sorry, I had a Chicago flashback.

Indulge me, will you?

There, that’s better. I think you could change a few words in the song and it would apply to these two siblings who seem to have a love-hate relationship.

It’s not like my son is unique, though. He’s human, and if you haven’t noticed, we, humans, have a hard time with “sorry.” My first reaction when confronted with something I might or might not have done wrong is to find someone or something else to blame. “Sorry” is a last resort.

I was reminded of this yesterday when my husband brought up something that I hadn’t even realized I was guilty of doing. I wanted to find a reason to not be in the wrong, but in the end, I had to swallow all those excuses like a piece of overcooked broccoli and spit out the words, “I’m sorry.” Like the broccoli, it left a bad taste in my mouth, but I knew it was good for me.

I know that an apology doesn’t always fix things and that people who aren’t sorry can say the words and nothing changes. (And that some people are quick to apologize for things they didn’t do and have no control over.) But sometimes the words, sincere or not, are a start.

My son was given three or four chances tonight to apologize to his sister. He kept wanting to hug her and stuck to his original story of why he wouldn’t apologize: “I can’t.”

Maybe it’s true. Maybe he knows he wouldn’t mean it. (That would be awfully deep for a 2-year-old, I think.)

Or maybe he’s 2. And that’s all there is to it.

At least he has that as an excuse. I’m not sure it would work for me. (But, I’m only 33! I didn’t know better. Yeah, right!)

When do you have trouble with apologies? How do you overcome it? When was the last time you said “sorry” and meant it? How do you react when someone says “I’m sorry”?


One thought on “Hard to say I’m sorry

  1. I view apologies differently than most, probably. i try not to make the kids apology. IMO, too often we are just saying the words and aren’t aware of what we are really feeling.

    I know that i often tell God, “sorry, I haven’t read my bible, I’ll do better” and the next day it sits unread. But, if I actually read my bible, it’s speaking much louder than just the “sorry”.

    We try to discuss with the kids why the did what they did and explain that their feelings are okay, but their actions aren’t. We then discuss what they could have said to get their feelings heard and if they are sorry that they hurt so and so. More often than not (read..if it’s not Aaron), they are then very willing to apologize. If they do apologize, I do make them say why they are sorry. They just can’t say “I’m sorry” and walk off. They must say “I’m sorry, I ….” Sometimes, they aren’t ready to say it with words and we explain that sometimes just a hug or a picture can speak volumes and repair any hurt.

    I really have no problems apologizing and many times find myself apologizing for things I didn’t do or that were valid actions, but caused an undesired action. It’s one reason I am trying to teach the kids that feelings are okay, actions aren’t always okay and sometimes are actions are valid, but may hurt someone.

    Aaron, I learned needs to be removed from the situation and distracted. he holds grudges and will straight out tell me he’s not sorry and if I ask him what he’s going to do next, he’ll tell me the same t hing he just got in trouble for. So, i sit him aside (apologize for whoever he hurt, because I truly am sorry he hurt someone), and when he’s calmed down, we talk about it. It ususally takes 10-20 minutes for him to get to where he won’t go reoffend.

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