Let’s face it, moms and dads: We’ve all done things to or with our kids that we never thought we’d do. We’ve yelled, spanked, hurt their feelings, forgotten something important to them — or done or said dumb things.
As a mom myself, I want to share four foolproof tips to get you back on track with your beloved children, no matter their age.
1.) Face up to what you did. This is tough but very important. If you yelled, you yelled. Be specific about the offense when thinking about and admitting it, because when you apologize to your child, a simple “I’m sorry if I did something wrong” make kids madder. It is insincere and communicates to your kids that you really might not be guilty after all.
They want to know that you know what the problem was so that they can be reasonably assured that you will try not to do it again.
2.) Apologize for the specific behavior. Many parents fear a child’s disrespect of them — or an admission of guilt as leverage against them. This isn’t true and won’t happen if you ask for forgiveness in a calm, sincere manner. The best time to apologize is after the storm with your child has settled.
If you yelled at your preteen, wait several hours until you and he calm down — and then go to your child and say that you need to talk.
Don’t be bossy, but ask your child to listen. If you are estranged from an older child, you can reconcile, but it takes longer. You will still need to follow each of these four steps and realize that the hurt may have built up between you and your child over years and years — so these steps are required to make amends.
3.) Acknowledge your child’s feelings when you made the mistake. Most of us never think about the child’s feelings, but owning up to the fact that you hurt your son or daughter makes an enormous difference in making amends. Kids are actually less worried about your behavior than how your behavior made them feel.
Asking forgiveness for the hurt you caused makes kids realize that you really mean you’re sorry.
4.) Assure your child you will do your best not to repeat the offense. When your child forgives you, tell her that you are going to work hard on your temper, your mood, etc. Then, work on it.
If you did something really bad, find a trusted friend or spouse to help you get that behavior under control. Often, we carry anger that we feel toward our job, bills, spouse, etc., into our relationships with our kids.
We take our anger or hurt out on our kids, and this isn’t fair. So deal with whatever you need to in order to get past it — and the best way to be successful is by recruiting someone to help you.
Great parenting is not for the faint of heart, this is for sure. But we are strong moms and dads — and our kids need us to be our best.
Dr. Meg Meeker has practiced pediatrics and adolescent medicine for more than 30 years. She is the author of the new book “Hero: Being the Strong Father Your Children Need” (Regnery Publishing, May 2017), as well as a number of digital parenting resources and online courses, including The 12 Principles of Raising Great Kids.