Do you admit it when you’ve made a mistake or lost your temper? Apologizing is not always the easiest thing in the world to do, particularly if you’ve crossed a line or lost your temper with your teenager. Learning how to apologize to your teen doesn’t only help your teen feel better about his relationship with you, but it can also provide him with the guidance he needs from a role model in his life.
How can you apologize to your teen? Just how can it help him?
Reasons to Apologize to your teen
For some parents, it can feel like they’re losing the respect of their teen or perhaps losing some of their authority if they apologize. While this may be the case in some situations, particularly if you apologize for a situation or conversation simply because your teen got angry or upset, for the most part, saying that you’re sorry can prove to be positive.
- If you’ve raised your voice, crossed a boundary, or otherwise know you’ve made the wrong choice, your teen will likely feel quite upset about this. This can potentially damage your relationship with him. By stepping up and telling him that you recognize your behavior was inappropriate, you’ll be on the path to helping heal your relationship. While your strained relationship may eventually even out in time, doing your part to help earn and keep his trust will go a long way to helping the healing process.
- Your teen, whether he is willing to admit it or not, has you as a role model in his life. He looks to you for learned behaviors, including the willingness to admit when he’s wrong. By showing your teen that you’re not only willing to examine your actions and behaviors but admit when you’re wrong, you’re teaching him how to do these things for himself. This can go a long way in helping his relationships with others.
- Saying that you’re sorry can remove some of that tension you may be feeling in the home. This can also help to mend the relationship you have with your teen, but best of all it can help to clear the path for the next steps as you work together.
It’s not easy to admit when you’re wrong or when you’ve hurt someone. But it can do you and your teen so much good if you are willing to take a look at how you’ve spoken, acted, or behaved.
How to actually say you’re sorry
How do you apologize to your teen? Consider how you apologize to the adult members of your family, your friends, and even your coworkers. Do you do so with a level of respect? Or do you brush it off with humor? Some relationships work better with humor, while others require a sit down to talk it out so that everything is hashed out during that conversation.
Here’s what the conversation with your teen may look like.
- Sit down with your teen when you’re both cool, calm, and collected. Make sure not to speak in a way that will automatically put him on the defensive.
- Tell him where you identified a behavior or action that was not suitable for the situation. Let your teen know that you recognize what you did, and let him know that you’re sorry for what you did and how it made him feel.
- Listen to your teen when he responds, particularly when he speaks about how it made him feel. Your teen’s reactions are valid and should be recognized. This may also give you room for further apologies.
- Ask your teen how he would have handled the situation and how he would prefer that you handle similar situations in the future. Your teen needs his voice to be heard, even if it is just telling you how he feels and how he would prefer you react to him when he makes a mistake or makes a poor decision.
- Remind your teen that you will always encourage him to have a voice in your home and wherever life may take him. His thoughts and opinions matter and should be recognized.
Remember that you don’t need to completely cave in and give up on any appropriate consequences that you’ve set out for your teen. If the situation warrants consequences, stick to them where you can. You can be apologetic and tell your teen where you wished you’d behaved or acted differently, but that doesn’t mean you need to completely back down when it comes to warranted consequences.
Choosing your battles
So much of parenting, from the time they’re toddlers to when they’re teens, is knowing when you should choose your battles. Is the situation really worth getting angry or upset about? Can something be handled as a teachable moment versus an opportunity to remind your teen of boundaries and consequences? Many times, you’ll find that your teen is more likely to respond better to a conversation than to you getting angry, raising your voice, and punishing him by taking away privileges.
Here are a few examples of times when it may not be worth getting into an argument with your teen and may be an opportunity for him to experience the natural consequences of his decisions and actions.
- Your teen didn’t finish his homework assignments. You could remind him, but it’s not always getting into a huge argument over something he is responsible for. He’s going to face consequences at school.
- Your teen refuses to dress warmly on a day when temperatures dip down low. He’ll be cold and miserable, most likely. You could pick your battles on this one, do you want to insist that your teen takes a jacket or just let him be cold? Most parents will likely insist he at least takes a jacket in his backpack as a compromise versus getting angry and raising their voices.
- Your teen stays out past curfew and doesn’t text or call to let you know where he is. This is a situation where you are well within your rights to get upset. Getting upset may include raising voices or issuing consequences more severe than usual. It may be that this turns out to be a situation where you’ll need to apologize to your teen, but only when it comes to how you handled it. He still needs to face consequences for his behavior and decisions in this situation.
One thing that is important to keep in mind is that you and your parenting partner will need to be aligned in how you respond to situations with your teen. If you’re not responding in the same way, applying the same consequences, you run the risk of having a teen who plays you off of each other to get his way.
Are you looking to connect with the resources that can help you and your teen? At HelpYourTeenNow, we can help you and your teen find the right path to the resources that can help you repair your relationship and focus on a much more positive future.