Habitot Children's Museum

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Habitot Children's Museum

Habitot Children's Museum
2065 Kittredge Street
Berkeley, CA 94704
(510) 647-1111

Parenting Q&A
12 Things Great Parents Do:

Admitting When You’re Wrong

Loving our children comes naturally, but the art of parenting is a skill, and like any other skill it must be learned and practiced mindfully. Part of Habitot’s commitment to our community is to support parents in the crucial and precious task of raising young children.

For 2010-2011 we are expanding on parenting wisdom from local psychotherapist and parent coach Dr. Erica Reischer who has composed a list of “10 Things Great Parents Do.” We are adding two “great things” or our own and each month we’ll share research and our observations of tens of thousands of visiting families to illustrate how using the “great things” list will for work you and your child.

This is the final month of the “12 Great Things” list, and this month we share a suggestion of our own: Admitting When You’re Wrong.

Parenting is hard work, and every parent makes mistakes from time to time. In some cases, bad choices can pass without consequence and leave a parent with the knowledge to make a better choice in a future situation. Some bad parenting choices, however, require an apology. Telling your child that you are sorry for a mistake you’ve made not only shows him that you respect him, it also teaches your child that it’s okay to make mistakes and admit it with grace.

Admitting mistakes does not show weakness, rather it demonstrates strength of character and the ability to take personal responsibility. By apologizing when we are wrong or when we’ve inadvertently hurt feelings, we are training, guiding, and directing our kids in the fine art of social relationships, and teaching them a very important lesson: we are ALL human and we all make mistakes, and owning up to those mistakes does not make the world come to an end. More than anything, apologizing to our children can restore relationships, critical for ongoing communication and bonding between parents and children. It can definitely make your children, who by nature are willing to forgive, see you in a new and more positive light.

Here are some tips on admitting when you’re wrong:

    • Apologize for your behavior, not for you as a person. Just as a mistake your child makes does not make her a bad person, the same is true for you.
    • Remember that no parent is perfect. As you reflect on your mistake, also think about all the good things you do as a parent.
    • Especially for young children, apologies should be specific and simple. State the action or mistake you made and say you are sorry.
    • Apologize with sincerity. Children are easily able to pick up on fake feelings, and we owe it to them to be genuine. A superficial apology can make a bad situation worse and is not modeling the sincerity we would like to see from them in similar situations.
    • Think about what provoked your “bad behavior” and how you might behave differently next time. Learn from your mistakes - and move on!

To see the complete list of “10 Things Great Parents Do” or to learn more about Dr. Erica Reischer, please visit her website at www.DrEricaR.com. You can also get a hard copy of the handout in the purple parenting cart in the museum.

Parenting Resources

Gottman, Ph.D. John. The heart of parenting : how to raise an emotionally intelligent child. Simon & Schuster: New York, 1997.

Talking With Kids: I Can’t Believe I Said That! PBS Parents Web Site. 2011. http://www.pbs.org/parents/talkingwithkids/apologize.html

Lumpcik, Maggie. You've Made a Bad Parenting Choice: Why You Should Apologize to Your Kids. 2011. Associated Content Web Site. http://www.associatedcontent.com

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