As parents, we have experienced those moments when we wish we could take back something we said to our kids. You may also notice that these instances happen more frequently in times of increased stress. When this happens, how should we handle it? How should we approach and apologize our children when we’ve done something we regret doing?
- Resist the Urge to Justify Your Action
When saying sorry, make it unconditional. Resist the urge to use the word “but,” such as saying “I’m sorry sweetheart, BUT if you just didn’t…” Focus on your own actions (or words) that have caused the child pain and just be sincerely sorry for that. Saying “but” only negates your apology.
- Apologize Right Away
Once you realize you have overreacted and hurt your child, immediately approach him and say you’re. Bear in mind that as the incident happens, the child starts processing and making views of what’s happening. When you apologize as soon as possible, you’re giving your child one positive thing to consider, which will stop the process of negative thoughts that he has in mind.
- Keep It Short and Genuine
Whether your child is just five years old or a 13-year-old teenager, getting straight to the point is the best way to express your apology. When you over-explain, you run the risk of being misunderstood and invite possible conflict. Simply admit that you were wrong, acknowledge that you have hurt your child, and say you’re genuinely sorry for your inappropriate action.
- Follow Up With Action
This is what makes saying sorry more effective. Our attitude and actions should speak as loudly as the words we say. Just like adults, children are aware of whether we are true to our promises or not. If we keep making the same mistake, we may lose our children’s trust in us.
- Give Your Child Some Time
Even if your child accepts your apology, you can’t expect things to get better right away. She might get over the smaller things quickly, but for bigger issues (and older kids), it can take time for your child to be comfortable with you again. Be patient. Children are naturally playful and can forget about the problem almost instantly.
Always make it a habit to say sorry to your children every time you realize that you have wronged them. Dr. Fran Walfish, author of The Self-Aware Parent, said that parents never lose ground as an authoritative figure when they apologize to their children.