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  • Want To Reconnect With Your Child After Yelling At Her? Just Say Sorry

    Yes, parents should know how to apologize to their kids.
    by Kate Borbon .
Want To Reconnect With Your Child After Yelling At Her? Just Say Sorry
PHOTO BY iStock
  • No matter how calm a parent you may be, there will be times when you lose your patience with your child. And then, before you know it, you’re yelling at her.

    Seeing that stricken expression on your child’s face and the tears falling from her eyes can be enough to make you feel guilt-ridden. But don’t worry — this doesn’t mean your relationship with your little one has been broken. The first step to reconnect with her? Say sorry.

    Should parents apologize to their kids?

    It’s easy to think that you don’t owe your child apologies even when you hurt her. Saying sorry can feel like a sign of weakness, so most of us choose to avoid it. What experts agree on, however, is that parents need to say sorry to their children when necessary. One reason is that it helps them model the behavior they want their children to display.

    “When a parent apologizes to a child, it further cements the parent-child relationship and provides the child with a sense of safety and well-being,” Kate Roberts, Ph.D., a school psychologist and former professor of psychiatry, explains to Psychology Today, according to a previous SmartParenting.com.ph article. “They are role-modeling accountability. They are demonstrating that taking action to accept responsibility for a mistake is more important than the mistake itself.”

    The Washington Post adds that by modeling accountability to your child, you help equip her to “navigate friendships on the playground and manage the turbulent teen years, and to successfully handle difficult work situations as an adult.”

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    How to apologize to your child

    When it comes to apologizing to your child, what matters most is when and how you do it. The first thing you should do is step away and calm down. Motherly explains, “Trying to make a repair while you’re still in the midst of a limbic system hijack is like trying to fix an airplane while it’s flying; you’ll have much better luck once you’re grounded.”

    After both you and your child have calmed down, it’s time for a heart-to-heart talk. Be careful about how you word your apology. Motherly says a sincere, heartfelt apology has five components: taking full responsibility, giving an honest explanation for your behavior, putting yourself in the other person’s shoes, expressing empathy for her feelings, and communicating genuine remorse for your actions.

    Here’s an example you can use: “I’m sorry I got angry. You didn’t deserve that. Sometimes Mommy becomes impatient and finds it hard to calm down. I imagine you must feel scared when Mommy yells at you. I’m so sorry for hurting your feelings.”

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    Note that there are situations that don’t require you to apologize to your child, even if she gets hurt or offended. These include times when you set limits or rules, like not allowing her to eat ice cream before a meal or have screen time before finishing her homework.

    According to Lynn Zekeri, a former elementary school social worker, not apologizing for your choice, you teach your child that some things are out of her control. “If it’s nonnegotiable, I will never let them think their feelings and anger will change my mind,” she tells The Washington Post. “I won’t apologize for something I’m not sorry for, but I will listen to their feelings.”

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    It’s hard to say sorry to your child, but it’s worth it. It might even help deepen your relationship with her!

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