Start With Sorry
“I want to say I’m sorry for yelling at you today.”
Saying “sorry” to your toddler does more than just repair the relationship; it also shows your toddler what it
looks like to
take ownership of one’s behavior. It’s human nature to think of allllll the reasons why your
behavior is actually someone else’s fault (ouch), but a genuine apology starts with owning our choices. When
you lead with “I’m sorry” you teach your child a powerful relationship-repairing skill that will serve them for
years to come.
Tell the Story
“I was feeling frustrated, and I yelled at you.”
Telling the story simply means connecting your feelings to your actions. Remember, we’re teaching our
children all feelings are okay, and this truth extends to you too! When you tell the story, there’s no need to go
into great detail, even if the road to your blow-up involved a variety of plot twists. Keep it simple!
Acknowledge the Feelings
“You probably felt sad when I yelled at you.”
So much of parenting is about connecting the dots for your toddler’s rapidly developing brain and giving
them language for feelings they can’t yet name. Once you’ve acknowledged and okayed your own feelings,
it’s time to articulate the impact of your actions on your toddler’s feelings.
Reinforce Your Love
“I love you so much.”
Toddlers need security. (Honestly, same.) And in the absence of security, they feel anxious and unsure, which
can lead to a host of undesirable behavior. So it makes sense to make space in your apology to reassure
them of your unconditional love. It may seem almost too simple, and you may wonder if your toddler even
hears it. They do. So don’t skip this part!
Teach the Coping Skill
“The next time I feel frustrated, I’m going to take
three deep breaths to handle my big feelings.”
Wrap up your apology by talking about how you’ll handle things differently the next time you have these
feelings. What you’re teaching and modeling in this moment is just as valuable as the apology itself.
Not only does your kiddo feel loved, but also they’ve just watched their favorite human in the whole wide
world model how to:
Make a mistake
Process big feelings
Offer a sincere apology
Embrace opportunities for growth
All together this apology script takes less than a minute to implement,
but its impact lasts much, much longer.