Admitting that you were wrong to your teen can be challenging. Some parents consider apologizing to show a lack of power over their kid, but nothing can be further from the truth: apologizing can actually strengthen the bond between you and your teen. Let us look at some of the advantages offered by apologizing.
1. Improves Feelings of Respect
If you want your teen to show more respect toward you, saying sorry works. When you admit that you were at fault for an earlier reprimand or behavior, you actually improve the relationship between the two of you. Staying adamant and thinking that you have to not say sorry even when you realize that you may have wrongfully hurt your teen’s feelings will actually strain the relationship. Instead, if you wish for your teenager to like your style of parenting, you have to make them feel that you could be equally wrong at times and that not always it is necessary to have the upper hand or the final say. When they find out that you actually care for their feelings and want to be become a better parent, their admiration for you will grow.
2. Creates an Opportunity for Truthful Sharing
If you want your teen to admit the mistakes they may have made in the past, rather than keep you out of the blue, you could start by taking the first step. Apologizing when you are wrong signifies to them that they can also share their wrongdoings. This will, in turn, build an improved space between the two of you in which honesty and trust prosper. For instance, you would want them to share with you things such as their underage drinking experience. In the past, they may have desisted from opening about involvement in such practices. But, showing them that you regret how you treated them will allow them to consider you as a confidante: you share something bad you did, they share something in return.
3. Makes Them Obey
Saying sorry can have the magical effect of making them obedient. It happens that at times teenagers would rather not pay attention to what you said and do whatever they wished to. However, once you admit your mistakes, they feel that they can listen to you more as you are considerate of when you were hurtful to them, and you actually care for them. In return, they feel like responding in a similar way. They would also like to pay attention to what you have to say about their actions and bring that into consideration whenever they act.
4. Strengthens the Connection
It can be detrimental for your relationship with your teen when you insist on being in the right when you know you acted wrongly. That gives off the impression to the teenager that you would like to be the boss in the relationship – that you are always correct no matter what. If you want them, instead, to feel that you and they are both human, prone to error and the best policy is to apologize when wrong, you have to let go of your feelings of superiority. Demonstrate to them that you both are in the same boat so that they can feel like communicating more with you about things they would rather keep mum about or even about things in general.
5. Exhibits the Right Way to Behave
Admitting your wrongs has a powerful effect on your teen’s ability to do the same in return. Teens prefer to hold in those kinds of experiences that they think you would not approve of. For example, they would seldom disclose that they hurt someone’s feelings by mistake or that they were negligent of their test schedule and ended up giving it with no preparation. Representation of the right behavior – apologizing when you have made a mistake – encourages them to speak up when they have made an error or acted in a way they should not have. It is significant to mention here that studies reveal that promoting good behavioral actions like apologizing can generally lessen the chances for defiant behavior among teens. If you want to get your teenager in the habit of apologizing to you and to others when they make mistakes, you do that by serving yourself as an example for model behavior.
6. Makes Them Feel Valued
Apologizing gives your teen the feeling that they are valued, given they are in the sort of age bracket when having such thoughts that they do not matter, that they are not understood, that no one cares about what they think can be common. One of the worst sorts of thoughts that could haunt them is that their parents can never understand their perspective. However, a sorry can change this mindset and turn them into believing that they are cared for by you. The result of this practice can produce very conducive effects on the teenager, who might be more willing as a result to share how they feel that you apologized. So, it is important to apologize when you are at fault as it conveys the message that you value them, and you are forever present for them.
Time to Implement
From now on, you should remember that if you ever upset your teen by acting wrongly with them, you must be open to owning your mistake. After all, every parent would want their teen to warm up to them and create a bond of sharing and caring with them, which is very much possible when you apologize.
Andy Earle is a researcher who studies parent-teen communication and adolescent risk behaviors. He is the co-founder of talkingtoteens.com, ghostwriter at WriteItGreat.com, and host of the Talking to Teens podcast, a free weekly talk show for parents of teenagers.