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Everyone makes mistakes. Especially when you are a parent, you are bound to make mistakes, and when you do, it’s important to apologize.

If you were raised in an authoritarian style family dynamic, it might seem odd to apologize to children. However, it’s important to remember, they are humans, and they deserve respect. The only way to truly teach them respect, responsibility, humility, and forgiveness, is to model these behaviors for them. In the case of when you’ve lashed out to them in a moment under pressure, you need to say you are sorry.

Not only does this teach your child that when you make a mistake, you should own it- it also teaches them the value of forgiveness. Below, I have listed 6 useful steps for apologizing to your child.

1. Recognize your child’s hurt feelings.

When a parent gets angry at their child, it can be extremely scary to them. Make sure that you recognize that you have hurt their feelings. Don’t dismiss what you did or try to excuse it. “I know that when I yelled at you that way, it scared you and made you feel bad.”

2. Accept responsibility for what you did wrong.

Make sure that you are direct about what you did that was wrong. They need to understand the behavior is bad, so they don’t view it as normal behavior. Remember, a lot of what your child is forced to accept from you, they are likely to accept later on. Set a good standard for them.

3. Replay events, and explain what happened.

Go over what happened, step by step. Explain what happened in the situation, where things went wrong, and how they could have gone differently. “I felt angry because you weren’t listening, and then I yelled at you. That was wrong of me. I should have calmed down and spoken to you calmly.”

4. Be clear.

Be clear. Don’t beat around the bush. Make sure that they understand what it is you are apologizing for, why you are apologizing, and why your behavior was wrong.

5. Share how you plan to improve.

Express what you want to do differently next time to avoid this happening again. This is a great opportunity for your child to learn how to grow and improve.

6. Ask for forgiveness.

And of course, much like any apology, you need to ask for forgiveness. They cannot forgive you unless you ask for it.

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