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 and needed to be perfect.  It took me years to realize and believe that everyone makes mistakes.

If you’ve seen a young child apologize, they often lower their gaze, look very regretful, and then apologize. Usually, they recover quickly, and other times they feel bad for quite a while.  Over time this can damage their self-esteem.  I think it is crucial 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.  They are not permanent setbacks but are temporary realizations or insights into ourselves.  This insight is reflective 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 think there is something wrong with them. We are teaching them instead how to keep their self-esteem intact.

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 critical point here is that we intend to be better, more helpful, more grateful, more tolerant, and more apparent with ourselves.  The intention 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.

The next step is learning about modulating emotions; read here to learn about this vital concept, Train Your Perceptions – 2 – Dr. Rich Patterson (

the Positive Psychology website has a compelling post on Emotion Regulation that you need to read here, What is Emotion Regulation? + 6 Emotional Skills and Strategies (

Yours for Better Parenting,