Have you ever contemplated apologising to your child? Should you at all? Read on to find out the answer to your dilemma.
By Amrita Gracias
You must have told your child umpteen times to apologise whenever he did something wrong. And, at times, you would have considered apologising to your child after having wronged her. But, the next moment you would begin thinking if it is a good idea at all. So, what held you back from apologising to your child?
Let’s delve a little deeper into the issue to understand it better and find the answer to the question, ‘Should parents apologise to their kids?’
Humans aren’t perfect, and all of us, at times, say or do something hurtful. An apology is all about acknowledging our mistake, asking for forgiveness, and assuring that we won’t repeat our mistake.
Offering a sincere apology conveys the fact that we recognise and accept our mistake, and feel sorry for it. It also helps to mend the relationship and establish the fact that we care for and empathise with the individual we have wronged.
Some individuals are uncomfortable with tendering an apology. This could be for various reasons such as not wanting to admit they were wrong, not wanting to accept the blame or responsibility, or feeling embarrassed.
“Parents find it difficult to apologise as ego often comes in the way,” says *Aparna Samuel Balasundaram. “They also feel that the child might take advantage of the situation. In fact, for autocratic parents, apologising to the child is unthinkable,” she explains.
Parents do owe their child an apology at times. For instance, saying things in anger hurts or scars a child emotionally. According to Ms Aparna, “When you say something in a fit of anger, it does not come from a loving space. Even your body language and tone can seem threatening. This could result in shaming the child and making him feel small. Therefore, parents should have the maturity to recognise this anger.”
Another instance when you should apologise to your child is if you hit or physically punish her. For, if you don’t apologise after such an act, your child may begin to think that these behaviours are acceptable, when they really aren’t. “The child might repeat these actions himself, or there is also the possibility of allowing himself to be bullied or hit outside the home,” Ms Aparna points out. “However, it is okay if you jerk your child or assert to him loudly when he is in imminent danger, like when he puts his hands into an electrical socket, for instance,” she adds.
Interestingly, there are instances when you don’t need to apologise to your child at all. For example, you shouldn’t apologise when your child is trying to bargain—that is, putting down conditions or negotiating—with you and you stand firm and get angry as well. “She must realise that she cannot hold you captive in situations like these,” says Ms Aparna. “Don’t apologise for issues like not buying her unnecessary things that you can’t or won’t, not going on an expensive vacation or throwing her a fancy party,” she suggests.
The act of apologising is always a learning experience for children. Apologising helps children learn to take responsibility for their actions and equips them with the means to resolve issues that arise due to their bad behaviour. The ability to apologise also makes children resilient, which helps them bounce back.
*Aparna Samuel Balasundaram – is an award-winning Psychotherapist, Parent and Child Expert, with 10 years of experience in the USA.
She is the Founder of Life Skills Experts that enables parents and teachers to raise happy, confident and successful children. www.LifeSkillsExperts.com
She is also the Founder of ‘A Flourishing Me’, that offers contemporary Counselling and Parent and Life Coaching [www.AFlourishing.me]
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