I have been recalling a teaching moment while doing some Christmas shopping recently. I was at a nearby mall over the weekend when I noticed a little girl who had wandered away from her mother and headed straight to the Christmas ornaments in a local store. You know what happened next: the little girl,who was probably 2 1/2 or 3 years old, picks up an ornament and immediately she drops it and the ornament shatters. 

Well, almost simultaneously, the store clerk and the mother headed right to her.  The clerk was more than gracious and told the mom, “not to worry about it” and told the little girl “don’t not touch the broken glass it might hurt you,” and also said “accidents happen”. 

At this point, I was sure that the mother would get down at her child’s level and reprimand her as well as ask her to apologize to the nice clerk.  But I was surprised when the mom just hustled her daughter off and nothing was said!! What a good learning experience this would have been.  This would have been the most opportune time for this mother to talk to her daughter about “not touching with our hands” and “looking with our eyes”. It would have also been a great lesson in saying, “I’m sorry”. 

Teachable moments are so important to parenting, and are the best way a child learns.  As a parent, it is much easier to teach a lesson to your child “while they are in the act”, rather than days later when the moment is gone and the opportune situation has passed.   

For a young child, learning to look an adult (or even a peer) in the eye while apologizing and saying, “I am sorry” is a lesson that has to be taught. .  Every time your child realizes, “ I messed up” and apologizes, they are learning from their own mistakes. They are also taking responsibility for their own actions and choices. 

I am disappointed that this mother did not realize the importance of teaching her child to say “I am sorry”, she missed a great opportunity, but she can grab the next one!