Sometimes as a parent, you might say or do something to your child that just doesn’t fit within your vision of healthy parenting. You might even end up apologizing to your child and that’s just great. If, however, your apology is all about how badly you feel, it isn’t an apology!
Kids can handle hearing this kind of thing for about ONE minute! Any longer than that, and it ends up feeling yucky to your child. Don’t put your child in a position of forgiving you or understanding you to make you feel better! For the most part, kids are allergic to their parent’s feelings and needs when it comes to parental guilt. Why? Because it is an adult issue. To add this, parents often go on and on about how they were raised and how badly they want to do things differently. Yes, it makes sense, but does your child need to listen to all of this?
If you apologize, do so with the intention of understanding how your behaviour impacted your child. It might sound like, “I’m feeling upset with myself for calling you a spoiled brat this morning. That was unkind and untrue. I bet you felt pretty hurt by this.” Then get curious about how this experience affected him. Listen to your child talk about his feelings and remember you don’t have to agree with how he see things in order to do this. He may not see his behaviour or accurately read the situation, but that’s okay. The issue that led you to lose your temper is a separate issue. If you bring this into the mix during what is meant to be, a heartfelt apology, you are kyboshing your efforts. Talk about that later.
The other thing, if you find yourself often apologizing about the same thing it might be an invitation to look a little deeper at your triggers.
What seems to get you off track with your parenting?
What are you reacting to?
What could you do instead?
What has worked before?
What does your child need?
What is triggering him?
Parenting is intense, and all families have times when they argue or say something they regret. Life is messy, relationships are messy and people are messy. Sometimes a look of apology and a heartfelt hug says it all.