I’ve written a few posts here about the fact that I apologize to my kids, and the circumstances around why I do it. I can honestly say that it truly helps my relationship with my children and teaches them lots of good social skills.
But when it comes to apologizing to kids, it can be super hard. It’s hard to take responsibility without still blaming the child by adding a “but you”.
“I’m sorry I yelled, but you weren’t listening”
“I’m sorry I was mean, but you hit me”
“I’m sorry I grabbed you, but you hit your bother”
I’ve really had to think about it. When I apologize to an adult I don’t say I’m sorry. but you… I take responsibility for my own actions. I despise it when others apologize to me, but then still blame me for their behaviors.
When I think about how I want my children to learn to apologize, I don’t want them to think that it’s ok to say you’re sorry, yet blame the other person. I want them to learn to take responsibility for the part they played.
It’s tricky. I don’t want them to think that because I’m apologizing their behavior is ok. But, I also don’t want them to think that my behavior is ok either. So, I take responsibility for my mistakes, and expect for them to take responsibility for theirs.
It usually looks something like this…
“I’m sorry I yelled, I just get so frustrated sometimes.”
“I got frustrated that you pushed your brother, but it’s still not ok for me to yell at you. I’ll work harder on that, and I’m sorry.”
“I saw that you were playing and your brother got in your way, so you pushed him. I know he made you angry, but I won’t allow you to hurt him.”
From there, I work with him on how to solve this problem.
I stick to the facts. “I got frustrated when you pushed your bother”
I take responsibility. “It’s still not ok that I yelled”
I let him know that I understand his feelings. “I know it made you angry”
Then, I let him know that what he did is not ok. “I won’t allow you to hurt your brother”
Then we focus on solving the problem.
I think it’s a good well-rounded approach, and it seems to be working for us…for now.
One of the best outcomes of this is that my son’s apologies are have changed. Sometimes he will still flippantly say “I’m sorry” without really any thought. But there are times when he’s sincere and he can tell me exactly why he’s sorry. Those are the times when I’m truly proud of my guy.
So, do you apologize to your kids? Do you ever say “but you…” when you do apologize? I’d love to hear your point of view on this.
Want to read about some of the times I’ve apologized?
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