(squeal, squeal, squeal)
Kyle: "Amanda, no. Stop!"
Mom: "Amanda! Leave him alone."
(squeal, squeal, squeal, WAIL, CRY!)
Kyle runs down to Mommy. Amanda follows behind.
Mom: "Get away from each other."
Kids: "But. . . she/he/I didn't. . . ."
It ends with Amanda trying to soothe her brother's hurt feelings, and saying she's sorry. By this point, he's angry, so he's having none of it.
Her dad and I generally call her on it: "You're not sorry."
It really irritates her when we tell her that, but she's not sorry. She's sorry she got caught, and there's a big difference.
Once we became intent on changing this automatic response, which only serves to water-down any real apologies she might genuinely want offer in the future, we noticed how often she uttered that phrase.
After getting yelled it for not picking up her backpack out of the middle of the floor when I've asked three times: "Sorry."
After reminding her a third time to unload the dishwasher: "Sorry."
These aren't "sorry" issues, they are "hop into action" issues. We told her we don't care if she's sorry, just DO it. Instead of saying "sorry," she says "Yes sir," or "Yes ma'am."
Bumping into me/her dad/her brother/the dog: "Sorry."
"How about 'Excuse me'?" we suggest as a more meaningful response.
It's amazing how some consistent correction can change gut reactions from meaningless words to meaningful action.
How are your kids treating you lately?? Have you tackled a tough issue that's resulted in change?