A micro-blog on Tuesdays with an emphasis on practical tips for successful parenting.

After a night out with my husband, we returned home to a quiet house and figured we’d get a nice report on the boys’ behavior from their babysitter. Not the case. Turns out it was more like “boys vs. the babysitter” and the chaos had just come to an end. Basically, our sweet babysitter was a bit shell shocked. She said 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. Ok, that’s nothing new. The boys do that with us all the time. Still their unacceptable behavior got worse. It’s one thing to misbehave, but according to our 12th grade 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. The two of them sounded like little, dare I say it, BRATS.  There was no way this behavior was going to be taken lightly. NO WAY.

So after we discussed their punishment, which included no TV from Monday through Friday, we felt we needed to do more. We thought this was a very teachable moment. So here’s what we did: We thought about having them write her a note apologizing for their behavior, but that didn’t feel completely right- they are 5 and 6 and we believe they need to understand and vocalize their regret. So instead of a note to their babysitter, we thought we would teach them how to say they are sorry. The boys say they are sorry in our home to one another and to us, but as far as having to say they are sorry in the “real world,” it hasn’t been a huge issue, thankfully. So we figured, now is the time. They need to learn how to say they are sorry and mean it and understand that their behavior can hurt people.

So we told them that because we didn’t know when we would see their babysitter next, we should send her an iPhone 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 study, how to play sports, how to play an instrument… we can practice how to say “I’m sorry” too.