saying “I’m Sorry” to a 4 year old

a·pol·o·gize – verb
1. To express regret for something that one has done wrong
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As a parent of two little people, I aim to raise them to be able to face life as it really is.  The good, the bad, the heartache, the excitement, the disappointment, the dreams, the love, the hard work and success part.  The beautiful parts and the not so the beautiful parts… they will make mistakes along the way and others will too that will hurt them.  I want to break the cycles of how I grew up and will raise them to be able to handle their emotions in the best and worst situations.  I’m not saying happiness starts with forgiveness but I think it’s linked in pretty darn closely to it.

So I’ve learned the best way to teach my children how to apologize when needed is to not just apologize when needed but apologize to THEM when I’ve used the wrong tone of voice, ignored them, overreacted or yelled at them for an accident (even the accidents that “should have” been prevented).   This can be a harder task then you’d think because it means admitting that I am not always right and some days facing my biggest fear- I’m not as good of a parent as I claim or want to be.

Life is busy, stressful, hectic, there’s about 50 different things going on in my mind a lot of the time….  bills, work, the new puppy, laundry, forms that need to be filled out, getting them dressed, fed, brushed teeth and not missing the bus in the morning, birthdays coming up, dishes, family events, working out, eating better, going to the park, DINNER!- CRAP, it’s 5pm and I haven’t even thought about what our plans are for dinner. Subway, anyone?

So becoming agitated, snippy, snappy, irritable, whatever you want to call it is pretty easy.  It doesn’t make me a terrible parent though (which is actually something I need to remind myself of constantly).  When I compose myself and have a little heart to heart with my daughter or son expressing the truth of that situation and apologizing it will teach them so much about life, love, respect and honesty.
It shows that when you care about someone you can let go of your ego, admit you were in the wrong and can ask for forgiveness.  It sets a GREAT example for how they will treat others, as well.  Like that quote above says, if I can condition them to forgive someone NOW they will walk around life with such a lessened load on their shoulders.

Imagine all the things you still haven’t forgiven someone for?  That burden follows us everywhere, it drags us down.  Forgiving someone doesn’t mean what they did was right and it sure as heck doesn’t mean it won’t happen again but I can teach them that whatever act has happened is NOT because of them and it’s OKAY to forgive someone.

Christian and I had a little accident with a chocolate milkshake in my car today.  A chocolate milkshake that just happened to go everywhere but in his mouth while Lily (our puppy) was in the back with him.  Bad idea on so many levels now thinking back on it but I wasn’t thinking that way while it was happening.  I felt guilty and mad at myself for not handling the situation better.  I apologized before nap time and this little 4 year old could have cared less – haha – but that’s not the point!  One day he’ll understand saying AND meaning “I’m sorry” is something we do in this house and will hopefully carry over to when he is older.

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8 thoughts on “saying “I’m Sorry” to a 4 year old

  1. Aw. What sweet little boys. I appreciate your approach to teaching forgiveness. It is such a beautiful practice to forgive each other and then ourselves whenever things go awry.

    • I have one girl and one boy but they both act like boys most of the time hahah 😉 I completely agree, it’s something more of us need to do! And forgiving ourselves more so than anyone else it seems!

  2. I wish my parents had ever been able to apologize for ANYTHING…they just could not handle the idea that anyone would ever think they had made a mistake. I think this is a GREAT thing for a parent to do. That said, and granted, I’m not a parent, but working on oneself so that the irritability goes way down might be a good plan…otherwise, it’s possible you’re teaching them that bad behavior is okay as long as you say “sorry.” Just a possible problem…I have NO judgment on your parenting except that you seem way ahead of the game.

    • Carol- my family was the same way. They were NEVER ever wrong, I think they’re better now but admitting fault is still very hard for some of them. And you are absolutely right! Working on dealing with that stress is something I do daily, I go to a counselor now to keep myself in check. Mental health was never a priority in my family so I’m trying to break that cycle. Thank you for commenting, I enjoyed your remarks! 🙂

  3. Love and appreciate your honesty of being human and a mother. As a mother of six… I truly understand… the spills, the yelling and especially the ‘I’m sorries….’ I’ve had to say many myself. Keep being honest with your children and that will go further than any amount of cookies or gifts.
    I’m new at UBC and that’s where I found your post… so glad I did…
    Best,
    Jean

    • Aww, Jean…I am glad you found it too! And I’m glad you can understand 🙂 Staying honest is my philosophy, not just with saying sorry. Nerves, excitement, disappointment, even crying (if it happens) to show them I am human and this is part of life. It’s funny, my daughter had her Kindergarten Holiday Concert last year and when it was over she asked if I had cried during a particular song, which I had! She knows me too well 🙂 I bet your SIX kids appreciated all you did for them!!!!

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