Dr. Rich Patterson


Make An Apology

When I was a young boy and had done something wrong my mother would remind me to make an apology.  I would readily do so, but frequently felt as if I was defective somehow.  That I had done something that no one else had done.  It wasn’t a conscious thought, but unconsciously that is how I felt.  As I grew older and became an adult, I still made apologies, but they were somewhat more difficult to accept because I felt like I was messing up, that I needed to be perfect.  It took me years to realize, and really believe that everyone makes mistakes.

If you’ve seen a young child apologize they often lower their gaze and look very regretful and then apologize.  Often times they recover quickly and other times they feel badly for quite awhile.  Over time this can damage their self-esteem.  I think it is important when we’re working with kids to help them to understand that we all make mistakes, that mistakes are ways that we learn how to do something differently next time.  That they are not permanent set-backs, but are temporary realizations or insights into ourselves.  This insight is introspective, or a way of self-examination.  Acknowledge it and help them to move on.  If you as a parent begin to see a pattern of this same behavior, then teach them to ask for help.  But never to think there is something wrong with them. Teaching them instead how to keep their self-esteem in tact.

Here’s what I know, “We journey through this life one step at a time and not all those steps are forward ones.”  Sometimes we have to go backward to go forward, but the important point here is that our intention is to be better, to be more helpful, more grateful, more tolerant, and more clear with our selves.  This is a lifelong process and in many ways we never get there, but to make mistakes is OK, follow it with an apology and do something helpful to another to make up for it.