Parents are not perfect. We make mistakes with our children and in our lives. If you have ever raised your voice to your child, spanked out of anger or frustration, yelled at your spouse, or used a curse word in front of your little one, you may have wondered what to do next. Should you apologize to your child for losing your temper, or should you simply pretend it didn’t happen and avoid calling more attention to the situation? Apologizing to your child when you make a mistake is not only the right choice, but it’s the only choice that responsible parents can make.
Apologizing demonstrates respect.
When you apologize to your children, you show them that you value their thoughts, feelings, and opinions. Showing your children that you have respect for them is important as you build a relationship with your child. As children grow up, knowing that their parents value, appreciate, and respect them as individuals will impact the respect that they have for themselves and for others. When parents make a mistake and tell their children that they are sorry, they are teaching their children that every human being, regardless of age, deserves respect.
Apologizing models appropriate behavior.
Children do as their parents do. Demonstrate for your children that apologizing and admitting mistakes is the right thing to do so that they can learn from your example. As a role model for your child, you want them to learn that there is no shame in making mistakes. Teach them by your example.
Apologizing allows you to forgive yourself.
Holding on to guilt about mistakes that you make as a parent serves no purpose. Apologize, move on, and learn from your mistake. Don’t dwell on it. Change.
Apologizing gives children a script for their own mistakes.
It can be especially difficult for young children to put words with their feelings and emotions. Learning how to express anger and frustration in a constructive way takes time and practice. By apologizing to your children when you make a mistake, you are helping them construct a script that they can use to express their own emotions and feelings. This script can be helpful in imaginative play and self talk, as well as for later in life.
When you make a mistake, realizing that your children are people too and deserve your respectful apology can truly bring about positive changes in the parent-child relationship. Regardless of your child’s age, demonstrating for them the correct way to handle mistakes is something that they can use throughout their life. While it isn’t necessary to apologize for everything that you do that upsets your child, teaching your children the value and importance of a genuine apology by using them yourself is a mark of a good parent.