Breaking the Cycle: Saying “I’m Sorry” to our Children


Parenting is hard, there is no doubt about that. We are constantly faced with challenges, societal pressure, and opinions from everyone in our life, and of course, we have children who are demanding snacks and refusing bedtime. One thing that the parenting books did not teach me, however, is how hard it would be to apologize to my child. To recognize when I have made a mistake and to accept that I am in the wrong. 

It’s Time To Break the Cycle

Apologizing to our children when we are wrong not only heals little broken hearts, but it also teaches lessons about accountability, empathy, and communication. More importantly, it breaks the cycle of unhealthy behavior patterns that may have been passed down through generations.

Raising the next generation of strong, independent, and empowered individuals comes with its share of trials. No doubt with many, many, many, arguments and tantrums. It’s not easy to gentle parent after your toddler has had their 17th meltdown for the day. But when you lose your marbles, saying “I’m sorry” can have a bigger impact, than the fight itself.


First and foremost, apologize. Sit your child down, and just say it. By hearing you say it more and more, they will learn to recognize the situations that warrant an apology. They will also see that we all make mistakes, but we can all learn from them! 


Toddler’s favorite word is “why.” So go ahead and explain why you lost your marbles. Whether you were tired, overstimulated, frustrated, or just having a bad day, tell them why so that they can understand what happened.

Talk About It

We absolutely need to be talking about our emotions with our children. Ask your child how it felt when you were upset with them. Tell them how you felt when you got upset. Name the emotions you were feeling at the time, so they can understand them. 

Here are a few of my favorite phrases to use:

  • “I’m so sorry that I yelled at you earlier. I’m having a hard day and I got upset.”
  • “I shouldn’t have said that to you. I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings.”
  • “I’m sorry.”
  • “I was wrong.”

Snuggle It Out

This is by far my favorite part of an argument. You know that saying, “Never go to bed angry?” It usually refers to a marriage, but the same rules apply with your children. Don’t hold a grudge against their lizard brain and give them a big hug. 

Parenting is challenging, but it’s also beautiful. Through a simple apology, we guide our children on their journey toward becoming compassionate, resilient adults. While on this journey, let’s not forget that a simple “I’m sorry” can create an incredible relationship with them. 


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