Things to Include in an Apology to Your Child

I have a pretty good track record with remembering to pick up my kids from school, but this semester, I broke my “perfect pick up” streak. I thought my daughter had biked in to school, but we went with the car. (Duh!  I dropped her off at school myself!). At the end of the day, I figured she would ride her bike home, but there she was at school, waiting for me to pick her up.

When I finally realized my mistake, boy, did I owe her an apology!

We will make mistakes as parents — it’s inevitable! When we do, there are certain things to include in an apology. Dr. Gary Chapman and I write about this in our book Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World (you can read more about the art of apology there). Here are five components that are included in a good apology:

Expressing Regret:  “I am sorry.” 

Accepting Responsibility:  “I was wrong.” 

Making Restitution: “What can I do to make it right?” 

Genuinely Repenting: “I’ll try not to do that again.” 

Requesting Forgiveness: “Will you please forgive me?” 

On that day I forgot my daughter at school, it sounded something like this,

“I am so sorry I forgot to pick you up. I thought you were on your bike and of course, I was wrong. I dropped you off myself in the car!  Is there anything I can do for you to make up for my mistake? I’ll try to remember to pick you up tomorrow! Will you forgive me?”

As we learn to apologize to our kids, a beautiful thing will occur. They will learn how to use this same language of apology when they make a mistake. 

That’s part of becoming emotionally mature. You can guide your kids (even when they are young) through these five steps of apology.

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