How to Apologize to a Teen

When you do something wrong, whether it’s hurting your teen’s feelings or making a mistake that affects your teen’s life, you have to apologize. Apologizing to your teen will not override your authority 1. By apologizing to your teen, you are making the effort to grow and build your relationship, to sincerely express your regret over something that happened 1. Apologizing is not necessarily about making things right as much as it is about showing respect 1.

Make it a point not to make excuses instead of apologizing, advises the American Academy of Pediatrics 1. For example, if you are in the middle of washing dishes and the phone rings, you might call out to your teen to answer the phone because you’re expecting an important call and cannot dry your hands fast enough. She ignores you when you call to her from the kitchen and the phone does not get answered. When you reprimand her about this, she tells you she was in the bathroom and didn’t hear you call to her to answer the phone. At that point, do not retaliate with, “Well, you never listen to me when I ask you to do things so I just assumed this wasn’t any different.” Instead, tell her you are sorry for making that assumption.

Mean it when you apologize to your teen, advise child development experts at the Kids Health website 1. She is not an idiot and she will see through your fake apology. If you are angry or embarrassed about the mistake you made, don’t apologize immediately if you don’t think you can do it without meaning it. Instead, take a few minutes to yourself to calm down and think about what you want to say. When you mean it, it shows. Your teen will appreciate your apology a lot more when it is heartfelt.

Say you are sorry. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the best way to apologize to your teen is to simply say you are sorry. You can ask your teen if she can find it in her heart to forgive you as well. Don’t worry that your mistake makes your teen respect you less -- consider that your teen will respect you more for apologizing to her 1. It’s not easy to admit that you are wrong, which is something your teen knows firsthand, and by apologizing to her you are admitting your mistake and showing her that you are mature enough to admit to that 1. Her respect for you will grow.