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How Parents Can Model Apologies to Children and Teens

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Modeling Apologies to Children

  1. Everyone makes mistakes; that’s life. Saying “sorry” to your child is not a sign of weakness, but of strength.
  2. When you’ve acted wrongly, admit it and apologize. “I’m sorry I yelled at you. You didn’t deserve that outburst.” 1
  3. Give yourself a do-over if appropriate. “Sorry, Sweetie, I didn’t mean to snap at you. Let me try that again. Here’s what I meant to say…”1
  4. Resist the urge to blame. Adults start to apologize and then excuse themselves because the child was in the wrong. “Sure, I yelled—but you deserved it.”1
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Modeling Apologies to Teens

  1. Role model humility. You can reduce teen defiance in general by instilling core values like apologizing
  2. More relatable and accessible parents. Your teen is better able to relate to you by showing your teen that you aren’t perfect
  3. Teenagers are truth detectors. They will actually respect you more when you level with them and are sincere
  4. Increase teen’s honesty. Teens feel more comfortable about admitting their own bad choices or struggles when you admit your mistakes
  5. Resist the urge to blame. A specific word to avoid is “but.” Avoid defending yourself by saying “but” after you say “sorry.”
  6. Ask your teen, “What can I do better?” or “How can we avoid this problem in the future?” after admitting any wrongdoing on your part2
  7. Your teen feels heard. When you say sorry, you respect your teen’s feelings and demonstrate that you understand them. You don’t want to be a parent who puts them down
  8. Apologies lead to forgiveness. You are not just teaching your child about the importance of accepting responsibility when you apologize, you are also teaching about forgiveness


  1. 5 Ways to Teach Children to Apologize. Ask Dr. Sears. [No date]
  2. Andy Earle. How to Apologize to Your Teen (and Why You Should). December 17 [No year].
  3. Meiser, Rebecca. The Importance of Saying Sorry for Teens (and Parents). No date.
  4. Image: teenager-1151295_1280 []
  • Are you relieved when certain students are absent?
  • Do you have students who “push your buttons”?
  • Do you find yourself butting heads with the same students day-after-day?

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