RULE OF PARENTING #23: Sorry Baby: 4 Steps for Apologizing to Your Child

Apologizing to Your Child

Rules Of Parenting - # - Child Angry With MomParents are the law; how can they be wrong? Well, the truth is that parents do make mistakes. In your moments of anger or stress, it is easy to offend your child with your words or actions. Saying sorry to your child may not come natural and it may seem embarrassing and humiliating, but it does not have to be. Saying sorry to your child teaches him how to say sorry to others.

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Here are 4 helpful techniques for apologizing to your child:

1. See Your Child’s Perspective

It takes a strong parent to realize that he needs to say sorry when he has wronged his child. How do you get yourself to say sorry? Empathize. Place yourself in your child’s position and try to feel what he must have felt when you spanked him, embarrassed him, insulted or criticized him. How would you have felt if your parents did this to you? After your hurtful act, why do you think your child acted the way he did? Perhaps he stormed out of the room, cried or looked at you with angry eyes. Empathizing with your child will help you to really feel what your child felt, to issue a genuine heartfelt apology and to ask for forgiveness.

2. Explain Your Own Perspective

Children can be confused by their parents’ hurtful behaviour. Ginger, 7, drops a glass of water and breaks it accidentally. Her infuriated mother immediately jumps on Ginger, howls at her and slaps her daughter across the face. Ginger is terrified and begins to cry bitterly. Certainly, this was a complete overreaction from Ginger’s mom. Generally, she is not a violent person but on this day, she might have been overly stressed or tired. When both mom and Ginger have calmed down, it would be great if mom explained to Ginger why she acted the way she did. The point here is not to justify your hurtful action; the point is to help your child understand that you were acting of anger, something that is unacceptable.


3. Say the Words

It is now time to say sorry and to ask for forgiveness. It is best to bring your child close to you, look her in the eye and say, “I am sorry for striking at you like that. I shouldn’t have done that.” Follow this up with a humble request to be forgiven by simply saying, “Please forgive me.” Asking to be forgiven shows your child that you truly want to mend the relationship, that you respect and care about his feelings. Sometimes, your child may not forgive you immediately (especially the teens) but do not resort to feelings of resentment, anger and being demanding. Just be patient, follow through with being the loving parent that you are (through words and actions), and your child will certainly come around.


4. Forgive Yourself

Parents are not perfect. They make big and small mistakes in the course of raising their children. Parents are faced with situations that can make them angry or stressed. For you to really forgive your child for whatever offense you have committed, you need to forgive yourself first and let bygones be bygones. If you hurt your child by words or actions, commit to refraining from using those hurtful words or actions. If you are angry, do not take it out on your kids (even if they made you angry). Learn how to divert your anger elsewhere; this way, you are less likely to hurt your children and you will not have to keep apologizing for your acts.


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