Parents constantly ask their children to apologize, but sometimes it’s the parents that have to say, “I’m sorry.” Apologizing to a child does not always come easy. Not only do you have to admit a mistake as an authority figure, but you also have to express your sincerity in a way your child understands. Here are some tips on how to apologize to a child, courtesy of Heron Ridge Associates.
Why Apologizing to Your Child Is So Important
Children follow your example. They inherently want to mimic their parents’ behaviors. If you are willing to admit to a mistake, your child is more likely to do the same. This teaches your child to be accountable for their actions – no one is perfect, and it’s alright to be wrong sometimes. Apologizing is a proactive way to teach your children good manners.
Forming a Detailed, Meaningful Apology
A good apology is much more than “I’m sorry.” It involves an explanation of what you did wrong, why it was wrong, and how you can improve in the future. Let’s look at a scenario:
You got angry at your child for letting the dogs out with company over. You did not give your child a chance to explain the situation. It turns out that one of your friends asked to see the dogs. Your child did not do this on his own. Your child is in his room as punishment, and you have to go in there to apologize.
A meaningful apology would sound something like this: “Hey son, I need to apologize to you. I jumped to conclusions about the dogs and did not give you a chance to explain your story. I’m going to work on my listening skills and only react once I know the full story.” You could add the words “I’m sorry” in there, but “I need to apologize” sounds more thoughtful and sincere.
Teaching Your Child the Right Way to Apologize
Take this lesson one step further, and use it to teach your child the right way to apologize. The next time your child says, “I’m sorry,” ask him, “Why are you sorry, and what can you do to fix/prevent it?” If your child has seen you apologize in a meaningful way, he can look back on those memories to form his own actions.
Improving Apologies in Family Counseling
Family counseling is a wonderful platform for improving communication skills. If you have a hard time apologizing to your child or to people in general, you can work on that with family counseling. Your therapist can help you understand your child’s perspective and express your feelings in return. It may take time to find the right communication strategies for your family, but ultimately, you will reach a balance that works for all of you.