11 Times When You Should Definitely Tell Your Kid You're Sorry (And 4 When You Shouldn't)

At just shy of two years old, my son does not have a large enough vocabulary to express all the things he wants to express. He’s getting there and, as my fellow parents know, it’s super-cute and exciting to watch him learn and apply new words to his ever-growing vocabulary. So, I’m posing questions he’s not ready to answer, pointing out things in the room that he doesn’t recognize, and introducing new concepts on the regular. One of those concepts is apologizing and, as a mom who makes plenty of mistakes, I've given my son plenty of opportunities to understand the art of saying sorry. Truth is, there are times a parent should say sorry to their kid, and your kid can learn a lot when you parent-up and show remorse.

My own personal belief is that if and when I mess up, I need to apologize and, yes, that means asking for the forgiveness of a toddler who is already too distracted by cheese to even realize that I’m talking to him. It’s a concept I want him to know well so, when the inevitable time comes, he can apologize for the mistakes he'll make. I also want my son to know that he’s respected enough to be on the receiving end of an apology, too, even and especially when it comes from an authority figure. And, of course, there are other instances in which my son might become upset or angry, that I most certainly won't be apologizing for. Because he lacks understanding, he will get mad when I do something that is actually for his benefit. In those cases, he won't be hearing a, "sorry" from me. Honestly, it's all a balancing act (like every other aspect of parenting) and it's one that, while exhausting at times, is also really helpful and beneficial for all involved.

So, with that in mind, here are 11 times when you should definitely tell your kid that you're sorry, and a few times when you definitely shouldn't. Parents, we're not perfect, and with every imperfection comes an opportunity to teach our kids something so, honestly, making mistakes and saying sorry doesn't have to be the absolute worst.

When Your Misinterpret Their Snuggle Cues

There have been plenty of times when I totally thought my son wanted to snuggle, based on the adorable way he was sleeping or reaching for me or acting like he usually acts when snuggles are a thing he most certainly wants, only to realize that he doesn't want to be touched at all. I'm a big believer in my son (and anyone else, for that matter) having complete body autonomy, so when I cross a line I didn't realize I was crossing, a heartfelt apology is warranted.

When You Eat The Food They Were Totally Going To Eat

I don't know about you, but my kid will get the most upset if I take that last chicken nugget that sat untouched on his plate for fifteen minutes while he haphazardly ate absolutely everything else around it. I mean, it's not like I'm purposely stealing my kid's meals, but it can happen (I guess) and when it does, I'll say sorry.

When You Break One Of Their Favorite Toys

First off, why do they make kids toys so damn breakable in the first place?! They're for children who like to throw things and test thins and why, toy manufacturer? Why?!

When You Overlook The Obvious Thing They’re Asking For Despite Their Amazeballs Communication Skillz

Oh, of course you’re asking for the fruit pouch that’s sitting openly on the counter, and not the stuffed elephant, four board books, pacifier, or milk I’ve offered you instead. Oops. Sorry about that.

When You Can Not Handle Another Minute Of Their Favorite YouTube Video And You Have To Turn It Off For Your Own Sanity

I have to admit, I don’t always apologize for this one since we are careful about screen time anyway and I definitely don’t want him to think he’s entitled to it or absolutely needs to be a normal, ongoing part of his daily routine. But really, when he’s being chill and no where near his screen limit, and I’m only refusing because it’s driving me nuts, well, sometimes I express a moderate amount of sheepishness.

When You Hurt Their Feelings

I’m gearing up for this one, guys. My toddler is just now getting to a place where he’s showing signs of having all the feels, so I think it’s only a matter of time before a (verbal) accident happens and I make him feel anything other than blissfully happy. When that day inevitably comes, I will definitely be apologizing with sincerity and, you know, probably drowning in that dreaded mom-guilt that I can never seen to get rid of.

When You Are So Distracted By Seeing How Tall You Can Make This Block Tower That You Don’t Notice That They’re Bored And Not Engaged In Anything Else

Oh, yeah. I should probably make sure you’re involved during playtime, too. Sorry, son.

When You’ve Left The Snacks At Home

There are no words to express the regret I feel in this moment. I know my kid is hungry and he's asking me for something to eat and I'm supposed to be the one that provides him with nourishment. It's really the worst.

When They Really Wanted To See The Garbage Truck Drive By The Window But You Were Too Slow To Lift Them Up And All They Caught Was Tail Lights At The End Of The Block

I’m sorry, son. Mom will start working out so this doesn’t happen again because holy hell you are getting way too heavy for me to lift you up without first thinking about proper posture and lifting with my knees and not my back and, okay, I am just too old for this.

When It Happens AGAIN With The Recycling Truck

Here, have a popsicle.

When They Jump Off The Couch At You But You Fail To Properly Catch Them


And, Of Course, Four Times When You Shouldn't Apologize

When You Won’t Hand Them Your Phone

I mean, there’s a reason we have a protective case around it, but still. It’s not a toy and I'm not apologizing because they're expensive and my kid throwing my phone on the floor is his new favorite thing so, just, no.

When You Are Keeping Them Safe

Whether it's deciding that they don't get to help with laundry anymore because they thought climbing into the machine was fun, or they're upset that they have to hold your hand in a crowded parking lot, sometimes you're going to upset your kid by keeping them safe. They don't understand why they have to be careful when they'd rather run around with reckless abandon, but you shouldn't have to apologize for "ruining all the fun" when you're really ensuring their continued safety.

When It’s Not Their Toy To Play With, Or Their Food To Eat

I get it, other people’s picnics look appealing when we’re at the park, but just because it’s there, doesn’t mean it’s ours. Nope.

When They Seriously Need To Go To Sleep

I know, you want to read more dinosaur books, but they will still be here in the morning (if I don’t mistakenly “lose” them overnight).