by ShaRonda Amon
Day Two at the Amon Academy Home School
After a successful first day of school-at-home, it seemed like things were really going to work out and I was feeling quite proud of myself. The schedule I made for my daughter to complete her written and on-line work was off to a great start! That feeling of accomplishment didn't last long when I realized that my 9th grade son needs the computer to do almost ALL of his work. Like most parents, I focused on the needs of my younger child because she is definitely more vocal and expressive of her feelings. I didn't check in with my teenager. I didn't ask him how he was feeling about all of the changes impacting him. I only asked if he was ready to start home instruction. He said yes and I said okay.
My fourteen year old rolled his eyes at me when I realized my mistake. I felt his frustration shooting at me through his eyeballs. My first instinct was to get on him about rolling his eyes. My second was just ignore it and make a new schedule that met both of their needs. However, I knew that what I did was wrong. It was a oversight and I had to apologize.
Dr. Tamar Chansky, psychologist and author of Freeing Your Child from Anxiety said, "We think that when we apologize, we lose things like our power and credibility. We think that our children won't respect us anymore, but it's actually 180 degrees from that."
By apologizing when we are wrong or make a mistake, we are teaching our children that we respect them. We are showing them how to own up to their mistakes and shortcomings. It also makes them see that we are human and don't always get things right or have all the answers. If I didn't apologize, he would have had an attitude and it could have made a difficult situation even worse. No one wants to be stuck in the house with a cranky teenager! The key to an effective apology is to be sincere and to keep it short.
My apology went something like this:
"Yesterday when I was trying to help your sister, I didn't realize that I should have checked in with you too. You are just as important as your sister. You're in high school and you have been doing a great job at being responsible. I apologize for not asking you about your needs. Can you help me create a schedule that works for both you and your sister?" No hurt feelings and ownership of creating a workable schedule – Win-Win!
There are some great resources available to parents on this topic.Positive Parenting Solutions has seven steps to apologizing to your child. My favorite is owning your own feelings.
Another great article is The Importance of Saying Sorry to Teens (and Parents)