Why You Should Always Apologize to Your Kids
On a recent blog post, one of my readers wrote:
I think it’s also important to know that it’s okay to apologize to your child and explain why you reacted the way you did.
I couldn’t agree more. We adults apologize to one another—we should extend the same gesture to our kids. Perhaps we fear losing our ground, likening an apology to forfeiting our authority. Or maybe we feel vulnerable admitting our mistakes. Or our pride holds us back.
Despite the challenges hindering us from saying sorry, doing so provides several benefits, both for parents and children, such as:
Apologizing shows kids that we make mistakes
I want my kids to learn that no one is perfect, even their parents. When they realize we make mistakes just as they do, they’ll understand that things aren’t always their fault. We’re not exempt from the same fallibility as they are. We’re also just as bound to the consequences of our mistakes. And they can question something that an adult has said or done.
Considering how much we want to protect our kids, it’s vital they know that adults can be wrong, too.
Apologizing shows kids how to say sorry
Modeling the behavior we want to see is one of the best ways to teach. If we want our kids to learn how and when to apologize, we need to take that first step and do so ourselves. Parents apologizing makes more of an impression than simply forcing our kids to say sorry.
Apologizing respects children
Despite our role as their parents, kids are still fellow human beings deserving of the same respect we would bestow on another adult. Apologizing teaches both parents and children that kids warrant an apology as much as any other person.
After all, we messed up. The next best thing to do is apologize. Whether the mistake was grand or a simple oversight (“Oops! I’m sorry I forgot to bring your toy.”), kids aren’t less valued as to simply be brushed aside.
Apologizing humbles parents
And perhaps most importantly, apologizing reminds us of just how much we have to learn. We’re not these big bad head honchos of the family—we’re constantly learning, often from our mistakes.
Nor should we expect ourselves to solve every problem or perfect every craft. We guide and nurture, but we also make mistakes, sometimes to the very people we mean to guide and nurture.
I’ve apologized to my kids, whether they can understand my words like my four-year-old, or have to rely on my tone and body language, like my 11-month-olds. I’ve apologized for various reasons, from simple oversight to losing my temper. And while apologizing can never undo the mistakes I had made, it will at least have shown my kids how sorry I felt.
Does apologizing come easily or difficult for you? What do you think about apologizing to your kids? Let us know in the comments below.
Nina is a working mom to three boys—a preschooler and infant twins. She also blogs at Sleeping Should Be Easy, where she writes everything she’s learning about being a mom.