Jordyn is months shy of 3 years old and I can’t recall a moment when I have told her “Now say I’m sorry.”. It just didn’t feel right. The words “I’m sorry” were going to be forced on her in situations where there could have been far better solutions. Like every new word Jordyn learns I almost always make sure she knows how to use it properly. How was I going to explain that word to her? According to the dictionary the word “apology” is defined asShe is a toddler, even as an adult I question moments when an apology is due. I don’t want her to think that saying sorry in any way excuses whatever is done. I don’t want her to think that you can say sorry and not give the actions that led to that apology a second thought.
Imagine Jordyn is in a situations where her emotions are on high and she sees a child using a toy she was using at an earlier time. She walks over and removes that toy from the other child. Now, I could tell her to apologize and move on but how would that fix what she did? How would she learn from that? If she experiences enough of those moments soon enough she is going to assume that any action is acceptable as long as it’s followed by an apology. So instead of telling her to apologize I could work with her to find a better solution. I constantly remind her that we never want to purposely cause any person hurt as a result of our actions. I want to teach my child to be a lot of things and being kind is on the top of my list. I can’t force an apology on her. I can’t tell her how to feel. An apology needs to be genuine. How will she learn that if I am always making those decisions for her?
Now, as Jordyn has grown she has added the words “I’m sorry” to her vocabulary by hearing it being said to her or heard it said to someone else. I remember the first time she told me she was sorry. I was on the floor playing with her, she walked past me, and she tripped over my leg. My immediate response was to apologize to her but she beat me to it. Her words were “I’m sorry mama”. It took me back a bit. She looked me in the eyes when she said it and the look of remorse was written on her face. I hugged her and explained it was an accident and that I appreciated her apology. There it was. She understood what those words meant and I didn’t even have to tell her. I had constantly questioned whether or not I was doing the right thing when it came to a topic like this. My child shows empathy and compassion. I know she is a gentle child, but she is also a child who has been on this earth just short of 3 years. She makes decisions that are so new to her that they don’t even seem wrong. A person who is on the outside looking in may think that I am not holding my child accountable for her actions by not having her apologize. The opposite is true. We talk it through and those talks are really to focus on Jordyn thinking through what just happened. I offer her the opportunity to let me know how she would like to make this negative situation into a positive one. It’s been successful so far. I shouldn’t feel like I need to be pressured into handling situations the same way the moms next to me are. I found something that was worked for us in this moment. If for whatever reason in the future this particular approach isn’t working for us than we will change it, but I can’t make decisions about my child simply based on what everyone else around us thinks is wrong and right.