Updated: May 1, 2020
When you've said or done something that was unkind, untrue, or unnecessary, apologize.
Goodness knows, as parents, we make all kinds of mistakes all the time. We say things we don't mean or we wish we hadn't said in the heat of the moment. We realize too late that we went too far or that we came up short.
Our kids regularly make mistakes too. They talk out of turn. They tell lies or omit certain details. They behave poorly and defend against it. They refuse to do what they must or they do a lousy job of it.
It's never too late to recognize the error and take responsibility for our actions. As a mom or a dad, when the moment has passed and been replaced by the wave of guilt, have the guts to acknowledge that what you did or said was unkind, untrue, or unnecessary.
Practice delivering a heartfelt apology to your kid without excuses. For example, I suggest saying: "I was really angry about the interruption" rather than the blaming variety: "If you hadn't interrupted me, I wouldn't have lost my temper." Just as important, don't caboose your apology with "but." For example, "I'm so sorry I yelled at you earlier ..... but, I can't stand it when you wrestle with your brother." The first half of that apology hits the bullseye only to be undone by the second half.
Finally, iif you can't be sincere, don't apologize. Let your kid know in other ways such as your body language, your tone of voice, and your availability to them that the storm has passed and you're ready to reconnect. An apology that's half-hearted is worse than no apology. It suggests that by saying, "I'm sorry," the event is forgotten or that the offender has been absolved. Treating our kids with this kind of respect teaches them the power of being honest, vulnerable, and responsible in our relationships with each other and with ourselves.
If you want more about kids making apologies or not, check out my blog tomorrow regarding consequences.