Telling our kids we love them is a no-brainer. But saying "I'm sorry"? Well, we sometimes skip the apology, especially if our transgression is relatively minor (we tossed a drawing out instead of pinning it to the fridge, say, or forgot to pack an extra snack for soccer).
Here's why you may want to rethink the strategy. Your kids may still be smarting over your actions even if you apologize, but they'll be more forgiving and generous with you later, a new study found. This was especially true when kids reach elementary school, the researchers found, a time when a child's sense of fairness becomes more fully developed.
"The apology repaired the relationship even though it did not mitigate their hurt feelings," explains Marissa Drell, of the University of Virginia and the author of the study. The reason, she speculates: Kids see your "sorry" as a signal that you feel bad about what you've done--and a promise that you'll try not to do it again.
And if you make some kind of amends with your apology? Well, kids' feelings are not only soothed, they are more willing to share with you--and that includes everything from hugs and kisses to stickers.
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