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 tricky.
I want to tell them that I am sorry for the part I played, and not blame them for my decisions. You see, I’m not a fan of the “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 brother”
Let me explain. When I apologize to an adult I don’t say I’m sorry, but you made me. I take responsibility for my own actions. I despise it when others apologize to me, but then still blame me for their behaviors.
I’m also not a big fan of kids saying “I’m sorry, but it wasn’t my fault”.
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. So, it’s up to me to model that for them.
But, 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 stick to the facts.
I name my feeling and tell them why I got angry.
“I got frustrated when you pushed your brother,”
I take responsibility.
“and it’s not ok that I yelled”
I let him know that I understand his feelings.
“I know what he did made you angry,”
Then, I let him know that what he did is not ok.
“but 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 awesome. Sometimes he will still flippantly say “I’m sorry” without really any thought. But a lot of the time 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?