How to Apologize to a Son or Daughter

By Jaime Vargas-Benitez
Apologizing to a child teaches the child how to be responsible for personal behavior.

The parental role is to teach, discipline and guide children, so you may be daunted at the idea of apologizing to your child. To admit fault may feel as if you're showing weakness, but when you admit you're wrong and apologize to your child, you increase the level of respect between you. As a parent, you are the primary example of how to act. In learning how to apologize to a child, the parent is also teaching the child how to apologize and be responsible for how he treats people.

Making Amends

Cite the specific reason for an apology. If you used harsh language, apologize for the manner in which you spoke, advises Dr. Sears in "Five Ways to Teach Your Child to Apologize." Parents who admit mistakes and apologize appropriately to children are modeling good relationship habits to children. Parents are human, so at times an apology is necessary. Admitting wrong when apologizing shows children how to be humble and how to reflect on personal behavior.

Explain why the apology is necessary. Perhaps you have been stressed from work or personal problems, or the child’s behavior has been increasingly inappropriate, and you've been neglecting disciplinary action. Sit down with your child and explain what the trigger was that brought out the inappropriate behavior, says certified parent educator Robyn Des Roches in, “The Power of a Parent’s Apology.” Tying behavior to emotions helps your child understand the correlation. Children learn through watching and modeling parental behavior.

Create a plan together for the future. Ask your child what could have been done differently to avoid the incident, advises PBS Parents in, “Strategies for Apologizing to Kids.” Parents and children can create behavior charts to illustrate the child’s behavior pattern. You can create a chart that indicates stress level, so your child is aware when you are overly stressed and possibly struggling with patience.

Tip

Talk with other parents about different ways of apologizing to children. Build a support network with other parents to handle stress.

Warning

Physical violence is never an answer. If you feel out of control in dealing with your child, professional help should be sought immediately. If you feel unable to apologize for your own behavior, counseling may be necessary.

About the Author

Jaime Vargas-Benitez has been a parenting writer since 2010. She has worked in the child wellness field in various roles for over 20 years. Along with the experiences of raising her own kids, she has been privileged enough to participate in the raising of hundreds of other children as well.