We have noticed my 5 year old son is overly apologetic. Towards all and for even minor things. I have no idea where the apologising for every mistake came into him from. When slightly younger we did ask him to apologise for his mistakes - but we weren't standing on one leg, adamant, till he did that.
We have tried to tell him that when he accidentally hurts his sister while playing, instead of sitting and apologising he can offer to get her an ice pack. Or offer to let mum and dad know that she is hurt (not that we can't hear, but this is something he can offer as remediation).
If he forgets his toys and says "I am sorry I forgot the toy at school" - I tell him to stop apologising and to learn from this and keep in mind to check for his belongings while leaving from school.
Recently, he was playing in the street with a football and the ball lodged in a tree. A neighbour walking by offered to help and snapped off a branch and flicked the ball over. We could hear our child apologise to the neighbour. Even the neighbour was a bit taken aback and said "You don't have to apologise".
So now the child has feedback from family and outsiders and still continues to have the "I am sorry" routine. And shows genuine remorse - where it isn't even warranted.
It appears that overly apologetic children turn into adults with no confidence and always undermine themselves. It's concerning that I know this is probably damaging behaviour and I am unsuccessful in turning this over. I fear my skills as a parent (or lack thereof) will turn him into an adult who is not going to be confident. I and partner make sure he is praised for his achievements (Colouring book, craft, remembering how to read three letter words, etc.) every so often.
My questions: Is an overly apologetic child a symptom of a deeper underlying behaviour/problem (including from parents)? How do I correct this? How do I make my 5 (nearly 6) year old son have the right understanding about apology?