Manners are a big deal around here. We started early on with "please" and "thank-you", Kate was signing both before she could say them. But now she's older and we've moved on to things like "excuse me" and "I'm sorry". Kate manages all but one with ease. She absolutely will not say "I'm sorry" on demand.
She has a book she loves and has memorized (she often reads it to me before she goes to bed) by Karen Katz called "Excuse Me! A Little Book of Manners". The "I'm sorry" example actually involves a slight against one's little sister, very appropriate.
This evening during some especially frenetic play, Kate stepped on Sarah's hand with her ruby red slippers. Sarah, predictably, bawled (she's such a baby!) Jeremiah and I insisted that Kate apologize for stepping on her sister but she'd have none of it. She left the play area and pretended to be interested in other things. She declared her hunger and requested dinner. She completely ignored my every request to come and say "I'm sorry" to crying Sarah, even though she admitted she'd done it by mistake. Jeremiah and I stood our ground. "You can either say you're sorry or you can go straight to bed without dinner!" Kate called our bluff. "I'm tired! Want to go upstairs and lie down!" Tears, tears, tears, flinging of self to ground dramatically, more tears.
Can't appear weak in front of the troops. So Jeremiah hoisted boneless Kate in his arms and took her upstairs, got her ready for bed and tucked her in. She wailed. He remained firm, kissed her goodnight and came downstairs. She continued to sob. Finally, I went upstairs to check on her. She was standing at the top of the stairs. By then, I'd given up. Having only raised a dog before Kate, I assume if we don't manage to punish her while she's in the act of being bad, she's completely forgotten what she did within minutes. I realize this is not correct, but still, gotta choose your battles.
"Do you want to come downstairs and have some dinner?" I asked her. She nodded, red-eyed and snotty. I took her hand and we walked down the stairs together. She was quiet. Jeremiah and I returned to what we'd been doing in the kitchen while Sarah (who possibly had forgotten about Kate's painful offense) crawled around at our feet. We said not one more word about the incident.
While Jeremiah and I toiled away silently, Kate bent over her little sister and kissed her on the head. Then she sat down on the floor next to her, kissed her hand and said, very quietly, "I'm sorry, Sarah".