Imagine you’re having an off day. Things are going wrong every other second. There are a dozen missed calls and messages to get back to and the fact that you haven’t eaten for the past six hours isn’t helping things. Add to that, the pandemic season, where you’ve been doing all of this while attending your duties at home. It’s overwhelming, isn’t it?
You might even be ready to snap at the first thing that pokes you at the moment. Sadly, this time it is your 4-year-old, who dared to disturb your peace. You’ve yelled and howled at the little one, only to realise a few minutes later that she had nothing to do with “your” problems.
As much as we’d like to call it a hypothetical situation, this situation has been quite common during the pandemic. Adults often do things unknowingly that hurt children. But being an adult also means owning up to your mistakes. While we’ve been taught to always respect elders, seldom do we come around and show respect to the young ones.
In a scenario like this one, it does beg the question, should a parent apologise to a child? We’ve tried to clear up the answer for you. Read on.
Should A Parent Apologise To Their Child?
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The short answer to this question is yes, adults should apologise to children.
Relationships between couples, siblings, friends, or even a parent and a child, need to be built on mutual respect. That comes from acknowledging our shortcomings and then working on the same.
At the same time, it’s also a necessary parenting trait that often goes unnoticed. Parents are required to have a model behaviour in front of their children. The way you behave with your child and other people will have an impact on how your child behaves with others too. This becomes all the more crucial when the relationship is based on a power dynamic.
When you apologise to your child after doing something wrong, they understand their worth as an individual and learn to respect other individuals too. The next time when your child makes a mistake or unintentionally ends up hurting someone, she will know when’s the right time to apologise.
Better Negotiating Skills
Most adults will refrain from apologising to a child due to sheer pride getting in their way. Even the adult knows that’s wrong but to err… is only human.
However, kids who know to give an apology at the right time will be good at handling friendships at a young age and relationships.
Apologising isn’t a sign of weakness but a display of the fact that the said relationship matters to the individual. Children who understand this will be able to work their way out of complicated situations in life.
When Should An Adult Apologise To A Child?
Like in the incident above, when you snapped at your child for no fault of their own, or if you accidentally broke one of their toys, then an apology is in order. This not only extends to kids but toddlers as well. You need to explain to your child that it was an accident and not a deliberate mistake.
An apology is also a learning opportunity to teach children to word an apology correctly. It needs to say that you are ready to take responsibility and reflect on your actions.
The idea is that you communicate to your child that what happened was a mistake and for no fault of theirs.
Apologising is also a powerful tool when it comes to raising teenagers. The rebellious nature coupled with spurting growth hormones can often create friction at homes between the kid and the parent. Which is why, a parent rendering an apology when necessary would be a good way to build a bridge.
Amy McManus, a therapist in Los Angeles tells parents to wait for their teenager to respond to an apology. At a time when it is easier to add drama to the situation, a parent saying a sincere “sorry” and letting it go, is a demonstration for the teen to follow.
When Should You Not Apologise?
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Sometimes you will have to play the strict parent for the betterment of your family, which is why an apology may not be necessary.
Kids may not react too well to major events like moving houses, a new sibling, or the separation of parents. As a parent too, you are going through changes yourself, and while things won’t be smooth always, you do not need to apologise for this. What you need to do though is acknowledge how your child feels and provide an opportunity to talk about the same.
Dr Pooja Lakshmin, a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at George Washington University School of Medicine, says that “all parents snap at their children.”
However, an apology isn’t compensation for emotional abuse or physical violence. It’s a strict no and needs intervention from professionals for the betterment of the child and you.
Is Snapping At Your Child Inevitable?
Yes, it is! You’ve lost your cool at your child before too and it will happen again. That’s how humans function and anger is a human emotion as well. This includes frustration, anxiety, worry, and more.
The pandemic has only elevated a lot of these emotions, which means the chances of you snapping are higher.
However, the fact that matters the most is what you do after snapping at your child. Acknowledge your mistake after you have calmed down, and apologise to your child.
Talk to them about how you feel, and how you could’ve handled it better and work towards it. If you are constantly irritable or snapping at your kid too often, you should seek professional help for the same.