Kids learn by example, whether or not those examples are set intentionally. Children absorb every aspect of their environment including sounds, smells, and the words and actions of adults around them.

Kids pay close attention to how adults treat each other and tend to mimic their actions and reactions. For example, some kids imitate their parents by dressing up in their clothes or acting out scenes they’ve witnessed. When they’re young, it’s comical. Who wouldn’t laugh watching a five-year-old imitate her father reading the paper and mumbling to himself about baseball scores?

What begins as imitation quickly turns to habit

When they’re young, kids pick up plenty of habits from their parents through repetition. Unfortunately, apologizing isn’t on that list. Kids don’t get the chance to assess their behavior and come to the conclusion that an apology is appropriate. Their parents tell them when, where, and how to apologize, robbing them of developing an authentic willingness to admit fault.

Authentic apologies are rare

Kids are almost never on the receiving end of an apology from their parents. Since kids lack the experience of receiving apologies, it’s rare to find a child who has developed an authentic habit of giving them.

Most kids grow up with a distorted perception of apologies. In their world, an apology is something you begrudgingly give someone out of obligation. To a child, apologizing against their will reinforces the fact that adults think they’re wrong, and makes them feel invalidated. Apologizing when they don’t mean it can lead to feelings of bitterness and resentment.

Many parents force their kids to apologize to neighbors, friends, and strangers at the supermarket for the smallest things. “Say you’re sorry” is one of the most common commands parents give their kids. If they don’t comply, some parents resort to punishment. Asserting authority in a controlling manner is one of the top three parenting mistakes people make.

Developing kids you can take anywhere

By apologizing to your kids often, they’ll be more likely to become a natural leader. You’ll be able to take them anywhere, and you’ll probably witness them leading other people’s kids during group activities.

For example, group activities like trampoline parks gather multiple families in one spot. Although these spaces are designed to be as safe as possible, kids can be impatient, and arguments can happen. When your child has sufficient leadership skills, you might witness them playing the role of peacemaker between other kids.

Apologizing to your child shows them their experience is valid

Kids are rarely allowed the time and space to come to their own conclusion to apologize, which makes most of their childhood apologies forced and inauthentic. Parents that offer authentic apologies to their children show them what it feels like to have their experience validated.

For example, say you punish your child for something, and they claim innocence. They’ll feel betrayed when you don’t believe them. Later, when you find out they were telling the truth, apologizing acknowledges and dissolves their feelings of betrayal and provides a sense of resolution. Your apology is like an acknowledgment of their pain. Without it, their feelings of betrayal will remain.

Apologizing to kids develops their empathy

Kids need to be the recipient of sincere apologies to get that it’s okay to apologize to others. When they understand what it’s like to receive an apology, they’ll develop more empathy for others.

Teach kids that apologies are an acknowledgment

Sometimes apologies are necessary, but forcing them isn’t the answer. In fact, forcing apologies teaches kids that demanding apologies from others is an acceptable way to feel powerful.

Teach kids that apologies are an acknowledgment of the other person’s experience, rather than an admission of guilt.

Kids who believe apologies are an admission of guilt don’t make good leaders. When they become supervisors, bosses, and company decision-makers, they’ll express their power over others. Their leadership skills will consist of intimidation tactics and threats.

On the contrary, the greatest leaders in our world understand that an apology acknowledges the impact of their actions on another person’s experience. Great leaders give apologies generously, and people feel valued because of it.

Author's Bio: 

My name is Jessica and I am an independent journalist, freelance blogger, and technology junkie with a passion for music, arts, and the outdoors. One of my greatest passions and joy is assisting communities and business owners. My utmost desire is to help people and business owners to succeed and prosper in their personal and business affairs. I share, comment, write and edit popular news stories.