How to Apologize to Your Child

When you know you’ve disappointed, hurt, or failed your child in some way admit it to your child. Apolo­gize. Let your child know that you are sorry for what you have done and ask for forgiveness.

Your child will learn that apologies are not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength. Your child will grow in the confidence that he or she can apologize without losing respect or self-esteem.

Sometimes children express their hurt feelings as an­ger or silent pouting. When these behaviors are not directly related to a punishment (for example, the anger a child may feel at being sent to his room or grounded for hitting his little brother), ask your child why he or she is angry or giving you the silent treatment. Let your child know that you can take an honest response. Ask, “Did I disappoint you by something I did?” Or, “Did I let you down in some way?” Or, “Did I fail to come through for you when you needed me?” Or, “Is there something you’d like me to do for you that I’m not doing?”

Apologize to Your Child

When your child says, “I wish you would . . .” or “I wish you wouldn’t . . .” take time to listen. “I wish you wouldn’t say that in front of my boyfriend, Mom!” “I wish you would have been on time so I wouldn’t have had to put up with those kids who always tease me after school.” “I wish you’d quit drinking so much.”

Your child may “wish” for something you neither can do nor want to do. But, hear your child out. Take his or her expressed need into consideration. In some cases, you may need to ask for your child’s help. In other cases, you may need to say, “What you are asking me to do is very difficult for me. I’ll try. I may not be able to make this change. I don’t want to disappoint you or hurt you, but I may not always be able to meet your expectations.”

Ask your child to forgive you only if you are truly repentant. Don’t be casual when you say, “Please for­give me.” That will only cheapen your child’s under­standing of forgiveness.

Sometimes your child will take you by surprise in citing your weaknesses, faults, or errors. Rather than concede quickly or gush an apology, you may want to take time to consider your child’s complaint. Be sure to let your child know your decision, however.

Apologize if an apology is due. Don’t deal in self-justification, back peddle, or enter into a debate with your child. Apologize if you feel you need to; don’t apol­ogize if your child is wrong. Give and compromise where and when you can; don’t be manipulated into concessions that are against your basic principles.

At times, you may need to let your child know that you have no intent of changing your behavior or original decision. “I’m sorry you’re upset that I won’t let you go to horror movies. I’m not going to change that rule.” Give your child reasons why you must stand strong on some decisions. Give your child a few minutes to cool off or think things through.

A child who hears you apologize when you err is a child who can also apologize. He or she will learn how to move on in a relationship after an apology is given or received. A child who sees you stand firm in a decision will be a child who knows where he or she stands. He or she will learn that manipulation doesn’t work and anger rarely has positive results.

A child with self-esteem is a child who knows that an apology won’t depreciate personal value and that stand­ing up for convictions is a mark of personal strength.

Filed Under: Family & Relationships


About the Author: Roberta Southworth is a psychiatrist by profession. She likes to help out people by writing informative tips on how people can to solve their family and relationship issues. She is currently staying in Ireland. She has 5 years of couple counseling experience.

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