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Practicing How to Say 'I'm Sorry'

It was Saturday night. My husband and I had just come home from a happy date night out, dinner and a movie. We thought we'd hear great things from the boys' 12th grade babysitter... not so fast. Turns out it sounded more like the feature presentation that played out in our home was "Boys vs. the Babysitter" and the chaos had just come to an end.
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It was Saturday night. My husband and I had just come home from a happy date night out, dinner and a movie. Our home was calm and quiet. We thought we'd hear great things from the boys' 12th grade babysitter... not so fast. Turns out it sounded more like the feature presentation that played out in our home was "Boys vs. the Babysitter" and the chaos had just come to an end.

Our sweet babysitter was a bit shell shocked. She didn't want to get the boys in trouble, but I urged her to tell me what went down. She said the boys fought with each other and were wild. Okay, the boys do fight and they ARE WILD. They are boys. Still their unacceptable behavior got worse. According to our babysitter, the boys told her: "We won't go to bed unless you promise to bring us candy at 7:30 in the morning." WHAT? I couldn't believe what I was hearing. There was no way this behavior was going to be taken lightly. NO WAY.

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The next morning we asked the boys how things went. They didn't offer up much. I told them that they had a delivery at the front door. They looked confused. I said, "the candy, the candy is at the front door." Nervous smiles embedded their faces.

We told them they couldn't watch TV for a week. But we felt we needed to do more. This was a very teachable moment. We thought about having them write her a note apologizing for their behavior, but that didn't feel completely right -- they were 5 and 6 at the time and we believed they needed to understand and vocalize their regret. So instead of a note, we thought we would teach them HOW to SAY they're sorry. The boys say they're sorry in our home to one another and to us, but as far as having to say they're sorry in the "real world," it hasn't been a huge issue, thankfully. So we figured, now is the time.

Here's what we did: we told them that because we didn't know when we would see their babysitter next, we should send her a video and tell her "I'm sorry." It really got them to think about what they were sorry for and how they were then going to articulate it. Here's a look at their first try. Not bad, but still needs some work.

We are our children's first teachers and as parents we can help them be empathetic and show them how to express their regret. This will empower them to be in touch with the world around them as well as be in touch with their feelings and emotions. We want them to know that we all make mistakes sometimes, but we can turn things around and learn from our experiences. We practice how to read, how to play sports, how to play an instrument... we can practice how to say "I'm sorry" too.