The Importance of Apologizing to Children 2


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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 frontĀ of your little one, you may have wondered what to do next. We’ve all done it, including us at MommyMatter. 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.

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2 thoughts on “The Importance of Apologizing to Children

  • HelenM

    I completely agree that there are times when it is important for a parent to apologize–meaningfully–to a child.

    I’ll give one example of a situation that still makes me feel just awful to this day. I was cleaning my son Thomas’s bedroom one day when he was about ten years old. Going through his dresser drawer I found some matches. Thomas was not allowed to keep matches or play with them and this was a major rule in our family. When I found them, I made him come to his room and I asked him why he had them and why he had chosen to break our family rule. He told me that the matches were not his and he had not put them there. I just didn’t believe him. I was sure he was lying to me. So, I gave him a spanking. And it was a serious spanking. I pulled down his pants and made him bend over my knee in his briefs. I than used a little paddle (the kind that used to have a string with a ball attached) to give him a spanking. Thomas was crying from the spanking when his twelve year old brother, Jon, walked in shocked to see what was happening. Jon proceeded to tell me the matches were his and he had put them there. So, Thomas had told me the truth and I hadn’t believed him!

    I not only apologized to Thomas his father and I took him to an amusement park as sort of “compensation”. I think Thomas long ago gave up any grudge he had against for me giving him that spanking. However, I’ve always felt awful over it. I was glad for the chance to apologize.

  • Mama B

    Great post! I apologize to my kids when ever I do something I shouldn’t have, especially when I loose my temper. They shouldn’t pay for my loss of control and I should take responsibility for it just as I hold them responsible for their mistakes.