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Kids need to hear 'sorry' after moms yell at them

Jill is a sometime runner and expert wine taster from sunny San Antonio. She has a degree in social psychology, one husband and three children. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, Huffington Post, and Babble and she's regular...

I yell at my kids, but at least I apologize to them

I yell at my kids. I don't think yelling makes me a bad mom, but it's definitely a parenting move I am not proud of. So I own up to my mistakes. I apologize to my kids after I lose my temper or yell at them. Our children mimic our behavior: They do what we do and say what we say, for better or for worse. Any parent who’s ever witnessed an expletive escape from a 3-year-old’s rosy little mouth knows this all too well.

I believe in setting a good example for my children. What parent says otherwise? “I like to behave like a jerk in front of my kids so they can inherit all my vices when they’re older” is said by pretty much no parent ever.

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But, as much as I give lip service to setting a good example for my kids, sometimes I fail. Yes, I’m a yeller. I hate this about myself and I’m working on it. I do the “take a deep breath” thing. I do the “walk away and address the problem in five minutes” thing. Sometimes, I yell anyway. I’m in no way proud of this, but I try not to guilt trip myself to death over it, either.

I'm not going to go down the road of "did my kids deserve to be yelled at" because I don't think any child ever does. Did they really push the envelope and take liberties with our established rules? Probably. Is some form of discipline or redirection necessary to address the behavior that resulted in the yelling? Usually, but that doesn't matter. If I yell, I apologize. Period.

I apologize to my kids when I’ve done something wrong. I know “I’m sorry” doesn’t erase a wrongdoing. I’m teaching my kids that an apology isn’t a get out of jail free card for crossing a line, breaking a rule or hurting someone, but that we should still tell others we’re sorry when we’re… well, sorry.

I try every day to be the best mom I can be. To keep my temper, to be patient, to be attentive, to be fun. Sometimes I succumb to stress, pressure, sleep deprivation; and sometimes, kid behavior just gets to me. I lose my cool and yell.

I don’t yell often enough to where my kids have become desensitized to it. It scares them and I’ll be the first to tell you, I think it’s a crappy tactic to elicit good behavior. The reason I apologize to my kids after I yell at them is simple: because I want them to know I’m sorry. I know soft, gentle words don’t erase harsh, shrill ones but I apologize anyway.

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I want to teach my children that it’s okay to admit when you’re wrong. I want them to know that although I try really hard to be good at being a grownup, sometimes I miss the mark. I want them to know I can own up to my failings, look someone else in the eye and tell them, “I was wrong. I hurt your feelings and I’m sorry. I love you and I’ll try to do better.” 

I have many wishes for my children: I want them to be healthy, successful, happy and kind. I don’t like to think of them ever being the cause of someone else’s pain or heartache. But they will be. That’s life. I hope they get to experience parenthood someday. I hope they never yell at their kids — but they probably will. Most parents have that moment where they slip and lose their composure.

I’m not modeling perfection for my children. I’m showing them I’m aware of my flaws and how my actions impact other people. I’m showing them it’s a good thing to own up to your mistakes.

If I could get up from my desk right now and never again raise my voice to my children in a moment of anger, I’d be a happy woman. But as nice as that sounds, it’s not very realistic. I’m not suggesting yelling is OK, but it’s pretty normal. When it happens at our house, I talk to my children about it, after I’m calm. I make sure they know I own my behavior instead of blaming it on them.

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I apologize to my kids when I’m wrong because I want them to grow up to be adults who can admit when they’re wrong. If I yell it’s because my reaction to something that frustrated me was over the top and it’s important they hear that from my mouth. I’m not a perfect mom, but I’m a good mom. I know my kids look up to me but I want them to see the real me, too. Even the not-so-great parts.

Besides, statistics say I'm not alone: Three out of four parents yell at their kids at least once a month, so we can all feel like failures together. Or, we can all feel normal. I'm gonna go with normal.

Before you go, check out our slideshow below: 

I yell at my kids, but at least I apologize to them
Image: Sol de Zuasnabar Brebbia/Moment/Getty Images
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