7 Steps For Apologizing To Your Child

Girl hugging MomTwo minutes after you see a blur of Oliver and Emma scream through the hallway, you hear a major crash in the living room. Immediately, you start berating the kids for running in the house. You head into the room, still yelling, only to find the cat sitting on the end table where the lamp once sat.

You turn around to find your kids staring at you with hurt faces and looks of disbelief that you blamed this on them.

We all make mistakes, and we need to teach our kids – by our own example – to own up to those faults, even when it’s really embarrassing for us.

Or even when we feel provoked by something our kids have done- like when we finally lose it after listening to our kids whine about something for 10 minutes.

The most important thing to remember is to stay calm and be sincere with your apology.

Follow these 7 steps the next time an apology is in order:

1. Own Your Feelings and Take Responsibility for Them

It’s okay to be frustrated, and it’s okay to be upset sometimes – we tell our kids this all the time. Just remember that how we respond to those feelings isn’t always okay. It’s not okay to yell or slam doors, for instance. Your kids are watching – so don’t react in a way you don’t want them to emulate.

2. Connect the Feeling to the Action

Explain in your apology why you felt the way you did. What happened that caused you to react that way? Just don’t use this as a chance to place blame (“I’m sorry I yelled, but I wouldn’t have hurt my foot if you had picked up your cars.“)

3. Apologize for the Action

Point out which action of yours was inappropriate, and explain why. Your kids will learn that they can’t act that way, either.

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4. Recognize Your Child’s Feelings

Show them that you understand they were hurt or scared. If your action was sparked by something your kids did or didn’t do, make sure they understand that your affection is not based on them meeting your expectations.

5. Share How You Plan to Avoid This Situation in the Future

This is a great opportunity to teach our children how we learn from our mistakes and improve ourselves. Be specific in what you aim to do, like avoiding blaming others or yelling.

6. Ask for Forgiveness

This can be as simple as, “can you forgive me?”

7. Focus on Amends and Solutions

Offer to discuss and work out solutions to the issue with your child.

Put It All Together

Put these steps together, and you have an apology that would go something like this:

“I felt frustrated when you weren’t ready for school on time, but it was not okay for me to let out my anger by yelling at you. I’m so sorry I yelled. I’m sure that was scary and hurtful for you. I need to work harder to use my calm voice, so I put sticky notes around the house to remind me. Can you forgive me? I’d like to talk about how we can fix this problem and move forward.”

Final Thoughts

Remember, apologizing to our kids when we make mistakes–as difficult as it may sometimes be–sets our kids up for recognizing their own shortcomings and helps them learn to apologize, too. It also shows them it’s okay to make mistakes.

Kids that don’t experience many failures have trouble knowing what to do when problems do arise; they don’t have the confidence to take risks, courageously face their problems head-on, or roll with the punches.

In the long run, making mistakes and learning from them gives our kids more self-confidence and resiliency. And one way they can learn this is by watching their parents take responsibility for their own mistakes.

If you feel like yelling has become your go-to discipline strategy, or you find yourself apologizing all-too often, I’d love for you to join me for a FREE ONLINE CLASS.

I’ll teach you how to get your kids to listen — no nagging, reminding or yelling required!

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About the Author

Amy McCready
Nationally recognized parenting expert Amy McCready is the Founder of Positive Parenting Solutions® and the best-selling author of The “Me, Me, Me” Epidemic - A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World and If I Have to Tell You One More Time…The Revolutionary Program That Gets Your Kids to Listen Without Nagging, Reminding or Yelling. As a “recovering yeller” and a Certified Positive Discipline Instructor, Amy is a champion of positive parenting techniques for happier families and well-behaved kids. Amy is a TODAY Show contributor and has been featured on The Doctors, CBS This Morning, CNN, Fox & Friends, MSNBC, Rachael Ray, Steve Harvey & others. In her most important role, she is the proud mom of two amazing young men.