Any parent knows that raising children can be difficult and there are moments when you might not handle things as best you can.
So should adults apologise to youngsters when they make a mistake?
Australian parenting expert Dr Karen Phillips explains why it’s important for parents to say ‘sorry’ – and when it’s appropriate to do so.
‘There’s a difference between saying “I’m sorry” and apologising. When we apologise to our child, it’s because we’ve done something that is directly affecting them or hurting them,’ she told the Today show.
‘When you say “I’m sorry” it shows empathy in that their feelings are hurt or they’ve been hurt by someone else.’
Recently there has been a lot of debate about whether parents should apologise to their children when they make a parenting mistake
Dr Phillips said parents should also avoid using the word ‘but’ in their apology.
‘The word “but” deletes everything that you said prior, so it absolutely annihilates the apology,’ she said.
Although children may not be consciously aware that this is the case, subconsciously they will take it on that the apology isn’t genuine.
Dr Phillip said parents who do lose their temper in a situation where they raise their voice can find an appropriate way to apologise for their behaviour.
Parenting expert Dr Karen Phillips believes that saying sorry to your children is important
‘When it does occur we need to go: “you know what sweetheart? I apologise that I raised my voice, it is inappropriate to ever raise your voice and hurt somebody that you love and care for. Next time I’ll go outside and take a few breaths, are you okay?” she said.
This should then be followed by asking them if they forgive you.
The child doesn’t always have to accept your apology and if they don’t, Dr Phillip said you should let them know that’s okay.
‘Say something like”‘you don’t need to forgive me straight away, what can I do to have you forgive me and feel better?” and they will tell you,’ she said.
Dr Phillip said that we can’t tell parents to never raise their voice at their children as it something that will occur from time to time
Not all adults can agree they should ask for forgiveness – but Dr Phillip explained it’s an important aspect of parenting.
‘We’re there as parents to educate our children, to demonstrate to them that I’m accepting responsibility, that I’m telling you it was my fault,’ she said.
‘We need to do the same for both younger and older children. Of course for the older child we articulate slightly different to them and it may be a little bit more in depth as to the way we’re going to fix the situation and the reason it wasn’t acceptable.
‘[Allow them to] feel frustrated, upset or angry… We need to educate our children on what we should be doing with those feelings and emotions, that’s when the learning occurs.’