Australian parenting expert Dr Karen Phillips explains why it’s important for parents to say ‘sorry’.

‘There’s a difference between saying “I’m sorry” and apologising. When we apologise to our child, it’s because we’ve done something that is directly affecting them or hurting them,’ she told the Today show.

‘When you say “I’m sorry” it shows empathy in that their feelings are hurt or they’ve been hurt by someone else.’

Dr Phillips added that parents should also avoid using the word ‘but’ in their apology.

‘The word “but” deletes everything that you said prior, so it absolutely annihilates the apology,’ she said.

Although children may not be consciously aware that this is the case, subconsciously they will take it on that the apology isn’t genuine.

‘When it does occur we need to go: “you know what sweetheart? I apologise that I raised my voice, it is inappropriate to ever raise your voice and hurt somebody that you love and care for. Next time I’ll go outside and take a few breaths, are you okay?” she said.

This should then be followed by asking them if they forgive you.

The child doesn’t always have to accept your apology and if they don’t, Dr Phillip said you should let them know that’s okay.

‘Say something like “you don’t need to forgive me straight away, what can I do to have you forgive me and feel better?”  and they will tell you,’ she said.

Make sense!

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  • I agree that the wording is very important.
    I know an adult male that is always upsetting people and then when he apologises he never takes ownership for what he has said and will say “Im sorry that what I said upset you”….uumm….thats not an apology.


  • Makes sense indeed ! As adults we should give the right example.


  • Very true. Adults should model the behaviour we want to see in our kids. Pretty common sense but unfortunately not always followed. I do think apologising for raising your voice is a bit far but apologising if you were not respectful or let your emotions escalate would be ok and shows them that adults aren’t perfect either and it takes practice.


  • I say sorry to y daughter when the need arises and I find so does she.


  • I am more than happy to apologise to my child when I’m in the wrong, however I wouldn’t apologise for raising my voice as I usually only do this to get my child’s attention when I’ve already asked multiple times for something and I’m getting frustrated. In all honesty if this is the case, they are the ones that have caused the voice raising by not doing as they’re told. Some of the above seems very wishy washy to me.


  • There has been situations with my son where I have apologised and said sorry to him when I felt it was warranted.


  • If your child does something to warrant being yelled at, I think its more important to sit them down and calmly explain why they got yelled at. If you just lost your temper over nothing, then yes you should apologise. If you asked them 20 times to stop following the dog around and poking him in the eye and they don’t stop then you may just have to raise your voice. You don’t need to apologise just for being a parent.


  • So true !


  • This is definitely something to think about. The “but” is a big thing too!


  • I think this is great! Definitely shows the kids another side to you and that we aren’t always one sided


  • Yep…there are times when everyone needs to say sorry.

    • Teaching children to apologise and to forgive and to be children that have empathy is such an incredible gift for them.


  • I apologise/say sorry when I need to. You can’t expect kids to do it if you don’t model it yourself.


  • Yes, I agree. If I do something wrong, I always say I’m sorry to my daughter. And no “but”. :-)


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