As children, we grow up with our parents on a pedestal. It isn't until we grow up and become adults and then parents ourselves that we realize that our parents were just regular people who were doing the best they could. One of the big lessons we can teach our children is to admit when we’re wrong and make amends when we’ve hurt someone. And the most powerful way to instill this lesson is to exhibit the behavior you’re hoping to instill.
Here are some parenting tips to help you teach this important lesson:
Lead By Example
If you’re regularly asking your children to apologize to one another, but you’re not living by the same guidelines then you’re probably confusing them. Children learn how to be members of a community and members of a family by following the example you set for them. Apologize to your children as often as necessary and do it in front of their siblings so your whole family can see that admitting when you’re wrong isn’t scary or uncomfortable, it’s a regular and necessary part of our lives.
We teach our children to respect us as their parents and to respect the other adults in their lives, but how much are we teaching them about their right to be respected? When we demonstrate mutual respect for our children by admitting our own faults we create space for them to develop their own self-esteem. When kids grow up in an environment where they feel respected they’ll learn to respect themselves and others.
Often the barrier between a person and their willingness to admit they’re wrong is a sense of fear. What will people think? Will admitting my faults highlight my imperfections? This is your ego talking, and it’s totally normal. But in order for us to raise young people who feel comfortable being vulnerable in front of us, or more importantly in front of their peers, we need to show them what vulnerability looks like. The next time you raise your voice and feel embarrassed for letting yourself get out of control, consider following up with your children with an apology and acknowledge that even moms and dads make mistakes. Small acts of transparency like this are the most powerful parenting tip we can offer you when it comes to teaching your children how to be vulnerable.
By now you know that there isn’t any big secret to parenting well. For many people, parenting is an exercise in self-discovery that helps us to work through our own issues so we can pass those lessons on to our children. If you’re interested in more parenting tips, please follow along with us. And, if you’re ready to join the St. Barnabas School family, contact us today.