Children feel validated when their parents say sorry. It also models a positive way of resolving conflict.
Apologise for your behaviour, not for yourself. You might tell your child, ‘I've been thinking about what happened and I don’t like what I said or did’.
Give yourself a momentary time out. You might say, ‘I'm sorry, I'm not thinking clearly right now. Give me a moment and I’ll get back to you’.
Ask your child, ‘What could I have done differently?’ Ask your child for help in figuring out what to do, and be open to your child’s suggestions. You might say, ‘Did I make a mess of this?’ Kids love to hear parents admit they’re wrong.
You might also ask, ‘What could you have done differently?’ In a non-accusatory way, review what occurred. Use this opportunity to discuss what you and your child could do differently next time.
Remember that no parent is perfect. Think about what provoked your response. Also think about all the good things you do as a parent. Talk to a friend about what happened and find out how your friend might have handled it.
Think specifically about how you might behave differently next time. What it is about your child’s behaviour that pushes your buttons? Is there something you can do or say that would change the way you react? You might try taking a deep breath before you speak, or walking out of the room until you figure out how you want to react. Think about this when you’re calm. The heat of the moment might not be the time to fix this problem, particularly if it’s become a pattern.
Learn from your mistakes – and move on!