A lot of work goes into parenting. However, no matter how much effort you are putting into raising your child, there will come a time when you will slip and end up hurting your child. It can be either through words or actions. What makes things worse is that parents will have no idea how to fix the mistake that they have made. You cannot avoid it or plan around it and you will begin to introspect into your own childhood and start wondering how your parents would have handled something like this. The idea that parents can and should apologize to their children after making a mistake feels kind of new still. It turns out that new research indicates that not only is apologizing to your kids when you make a mistake a good idea, but it can also be a game-changer in the emotional development of your child.
Psychology Today writes that these are the most important words any of us can use in any kind of relationship: “The most important words in any relationship: ‘I love you. I hear you. I’m sorry.
What can I do to make this right?'”
A lot of people probably agree with that statement, but for some reason, it can be tough for the same parent who insists that their kids apologize to each other to insist that they themselves apologize to their kids. The publication also posits that the reason it’s hard to apologize to our kids is that parents feel like we are always supposed to be right, and apologizing can make us feel ashamed.
But working ourselves up toward apologizing to our kids really matters. In addition to letting our kids see that we are actually only human, apologizing also helps the bond between parents and their kids grow.
Family and childhood charity Idaho Youth Ranch notes that “when you apologize to your child, you actually strengthen your bond by validating your child’s feelings and teaching them that mistakes are okay as long as you take responsibility and learn from those mistakes.”
Of course, it’s one thing to know that you should apologize to your kids; it’s another to actually do it. If you didn’t grow up with parents who practiced apologizing to you, it can be difficult to know where to start. Even if you had the best parents in the world, you might find that owning your own mistakes as a parent is a challenge.
One tip for learning to apologize to your kids is to practice doing so from an early point in their lives and apologize as much as you need to. That doesn’t mean becoming a doormat, and it doesn’t mean every mistake you make needs an apology, but practicing anything will make you better at it.
Psychology Today offers excellent guidance on the topic: “Obviously, don’t apologize for setting appropriate limits. But it’s our job to manage our own emotions, no matter what our child does, so apologizing when we ‘lose it’ is essential, unless we want our child to copy our ‘tantrums.'”
Sometimes, a parent might think one of their outbursts was no big deal and not understand why their kids are upset in the first place. Instead of minimizing your child’s feelings, focus on understanding where they’re coming from. You might not think your kid needs an apology from you, but if they do, it’s worth hearing them out.
It’s also important to offer a real, sincere apology — and not imply that your child’s reaction is their fault. As an adult, the most frustrating apologies I receive often begin with “I’m sorry you feel that way, but … .” In that “apology,” the person doing the apologizing is still shifting blame to the person who was hurt, instead of owning their behavior.