My son was at his therapist’s office the other day. In his little life he has had a lot of loss and sometimes we all need help coping with the grief that comes from that. Since he’s so young he spends most of his time to just playing and avoiding questions that make him feel uncomfortable. This last week his therapist noticed that he was apologizing a lot. This is not like him. He usually apologizes when necessary but not unusually so. She mentioned that it is a sign of anxiety and feeling guilty about things.
I thought about this for a while, and tried to evaluate what had been going on in his life lately that may have made him feel that way. After a bit I realized that it wasn’t his anxiety at all. It was his God father’s. I love my friend and he is a wonderful person.. but he apologizes to inanimate objects when he trips. I told him that I was getting ready to take my son to school and his response was, “I’m sorry”.. for what? Not only did it not involve any behavior that he had to apologize for.. my son going back to school is a good thing. We are all excited.
My friend blamed this behavior on being in the customer service industry… but that’s not the case. There is no need to apologize for good things happening even in customer service. In his case he is always waiting for the other shoe to drop. He is always expecting bad news.. and he is always first to take blame.. even for things that aren’t his fault.
I don’t know where he learned this, but I want to make sure that my son doesn’t pick up this habit. I want my son to apologize for things he’s really sorry for, not just pay lip service. I want my son to feel comfortable in his own skin and with his own actions. I want my son to look forward to people’s news. I want “Guess what?” to be a question of excitement not dread. It’s important to teach empathy and awareness.. it’s something else to create anxiety and guilt.. or a fear of being wrong just for being oneself.