Many of us, adults, have certain inhibitions about apologizing, especially and moreover, to children. We believe being older than children makes us naturally more responsible, authoritative and wise. We believe that upon making a mistake, it is best to leave it at that, without making two bones about it and apologizing to our children. We also do not believe in justifying our actions or providing clarifications, wherever necessary – only because we are their parents and are older than them. However, when our children err, we are quick to chastise them and seek an apology that very instant. Little do we realize that our children observe and learn from our words, actions and behavior. They watch our every move and aspire to be just like us.
How Does Saying Sorry To Your Child Benefits Them?
Apologizing to our children – genuinely saying ‘sorry’ to them when we make a mistake or a blunder – strengthens the bond with our children, benefits them in several ways, and makes them better individuals. Read on to know how.
- You create a behavior blueprint for them: Children mimic our actions faster than embodying our words. Broken promises, physical abuse and aggressive behavior is picked up the fastest by children. Hence when parents apologize for their behavior or unkind words, children build a positive blueprint of this episode in their tender minds and mimic this act of genuine goodness. Since you are their role model, your ‘sorry’ becomes their guiding principle when they make mistakes
- It helps them take responsibility for their actions: When parents accept their folly, and apologize to them, it sends across a very strong message to the children – a message that teaches them that everyone is human and imperfect, and hence fallible. They learn that acknowledging your mistakes and taking responsibility for your actions are the right approaches to life
- It makes them accountable: An apology from a parent helps a child learn accountability for actions. Owning up and being prepared to bear the consequences of your actions is an important lesson learnt in life, the earlier the better. After all it is not the mistake itself but how you handle it that defines your character
- It teaches them to accept others better: Every individual has a certain degree of propensity to falter. Each of us makes mistakes, speaks a harsh word or two at times, indulges in unpleasant behavior. A heartfelt apology from parents at times when they speak unkindly, teaches children that no one is perfect. It teaches them to accept everyone better. It teaches them that their elders cannot always be right, by the virtue of their age or relationship with them. They are equally human and they also tend to stumble
- It teaches them the value of honesty: Hiding your mistakes and lying about them are equally bad as committing the mistake itself. When you apologize to your child, they learn the importance of speaking the truth. When you apologize for your unpleasant words or behavior, you help them understand the importance of admitting to their mistakes before it is too late. It banishes doubts regarding any shame or stigma associated with speaking the truth and accepting their mistakes in the future
- It helps build a positive self-esteem: Speaking the truth and accepting one’s mistakes makes you feel good about yourself. Apologizing for your deeds puts you up on a pedestal which presents an opportunity to make amends and face the consequences for your misdeeds. This modeled behavior is instrumental in building a positive self-esteem in your child, right at a tender age
- It promotes mutual respect: When you say sorry to your child, you help your child distinguish and identify right from wrong. You grow in the eyes of your child and that cements this bond of mutual respect between you and your child< /li>
- It helps distinguish apology from submission: Apologizing to your child politely yet with authority helps them understand that one need not be apologetic all the time, but must do so only for the right reason in front of the right person. It sets the context for them wherein they learn to distinguish between an apology and a submission. Saying sorry is not equivalent to giving in or being subservient to anybody
- It presents opportunities to learn and grow: When parents accept their mistake, and apologize for them to their child, it presents them with an opportunity to learn from the whole experience. Parents can take this opportunity to teach the right behavior and conduct to their child. This can in turn help the child grow into a good individual
5 Useful Tips For Apologizing To Your Child
- Apologize for your action: Do let your kid know action of yours was not acceptable and why. This will help the kid know what is not appropriate and they will learn that they can’t act in that manner
- Be sincere in your apology: When apologizing to your child, be sincere in your apology. Look into your child’s eye and never ever give a half-hearted apology. Children are smart enough to understand that you are not just saying words and you mean it
- Don’t use words like “But”: As a parent you will be tempted to find an excuse for your behavior and action by saying “I am sorry, but you…” Avoid this as the word “but” contradicts all the words that come before it
- Let it go: All you can do is apologize and ask for forgiveness from your child. Ensure that you do it only once. Because if you do it more the child can take advantage of the situation
- Offer forgiveness: Be kind and accept any apology that your child offers back. Let your child know that you are proud of him and appreciate the way he has handled the situation in a positive manner
When parents apologize to their child, they send out a very strong message that of preserving bonds of love over preserving pride and ego. It indicates the strength of character, not cowardice or weakness. It speaks volumes about nurturing the spirit of your relationship – where you give, forgive, care for each other and are compassionate towards each other. When parents apologize to their child, it instills great values in their child – values for life!
Have you ever apologized to your child? Do share your experience in the comments section below.