'I am sorry. Can we start over?' Why it’s important for you to admit to your child when you’re wrong
Find out why apologizing for your mistakes makes you a more effective parent
Admitting that you’re wrong is always difficult, but it’s a necessary part of maintaining relationships. After all, no one is perfect. We all make mistakes, and so we should all own up to them.
However, most parents don’t even think to admit their mistakes to their children. Perhaps they think that by admitting they are wrong, they are giving up their authority, when in fact, apologising is a show of strength, not weakness. Owning up to your mistakes will make you even more effective as a parent. Here’s why.
You need to set a good example
Do you often wonder why your child has a hard time admitting that he was wrong? Perhaps you don’t have to look very far to find the reason why. We need to show our children that we can own up to our mistakes and learn from them. More importantly we need to show children how to recognize the difference between right and wrong.
It strengthens your relationship
According to the Raising Kids Who Can Cope series, apologies helps mend relationships by “[restoring] good feelings, [reducing] the resentment your child may feel, and [giving] you a chance to talk to your child about what happened and why it was wrong.” Talking to your child about your mistakes doesn’t have to be a long and painful conversation.
It empowers your child
We sometimes forget that our child is an actual person who needs our respect as well. Apologizing for our wrongdoings is a matter of basic respect. Admitting to our kids that we made a mistake gives them that kind of respect.
Kids are also more perceptive than we give them credit for. They’re able to tell if we’ve done something wrong, and if we pretend otherwise, we might be “teaching them that they should mistrust their own instincts in their interactions with other people, which sets them up to be mistreated in other relationships.”
It releases you from guilt
Not owning up to your mistakes can lead to a slippery slope of shame and self-loathing. Apologizing allows parents to focus on their children instead of themselves, allowing both parents and kids to feel better in the end.
There is generosity in saying sorry
Apologising teaches children — even toddlers — how to take responsibility for their actions and how to forgive.
Elements of a good apology
- Acknowledges responsibility (I lied to you)
- Explanation of what went wrong (I was busy and I did not want to explain why we were not doing xxx)
- Contains elements of mortification (I am ashamed of myself for lying)
- Contains elements of corrective action (I won’t do it again)
- Request for forgiveness (I hope you can forgive me)
- No element of denial (but…not my fault)
- No elements of evasion (it was complicated)