When Gabi does something she's not supposed to, like coloring with a crayon on a doll's face, or ripping pages out of a book, she'll come to me with a guilty look and say, "I'm sorry, mommy."
When I ask her what she's sorry for, she'll tell me what she did and either hold up the discriminating evidence or lead me to it.
She's a bit behind on the logic train if she's thinking, "I'll do something wrong, then go tell mommy so that I'll get in trouble."
Which works for me.
Last night she spilled a whole glass of water on the living room rug and just couldn't help tattling on herself (one of our house rules is no drinks in the living room). I handed her a towel and told her to go mop it up, thinking I'd go easy on her. It was only water after all, and even if it was a habit, I appreciated that she had told me.
She cried the whole time she was cleaning up! Which was mostly just jumping up and down on the towel, so I don't see what all the drama was about. But a river had been cried by the time she was done.
This distress this all caused in her little life makes me wonder if she'll be wising up soon.