How To Stop Apologizing for Your Child’s Temperament


A young girl holding up googly eyes. My daughter is eight months old. She’s adventurous, curious, and always on the move. She has a strong personality, and she will let you know when she’s content…and when she isn’t. It’s one of the many things I love that about her!

Emotions are challenging, and depending on your upbringing, could even feel scary! I appreciate that my daughter has BIG feelings and feels secure enough to express them. So, why is it that I have spent many months apologizing for her temperament? I suppose it’s because her emotions and reactions (hello, stranger danger) have caused others to feel uncomfortable, even offended.

The idea that a child should immediately adapt to a new environment and be okay around others is a bit foreign to me. Especially having had my daughter in the middle of a pandemic, when people are masked, and we’ve generally remained home.

It makes sense she is skeptical of new faces and even those people she does see but doesn’t have a sense of comfort around yet; it’s nothing personal. It’s just a developmentally appropriate period and part of her temperament and who she is! I’ve learned to no longer apologize for her behavior, and instead, when there is criticism disguised as advice, I simply say, “She has big feelings and I’m okay with that,” or, “She is who she is.”

So, how did I get to this place of contentment? Here are my five tips to help you STOP apologizing for your child’s temperament.

1. They’re children (or babies!).

Think about what comforts you as an adult. I’d imagine routine, familiar people/places, and doing something you enjoy. It’s likely the same for your little one! And that’s okay. Finding a separation routine or giving an extra snuggle if you see that they’re overwhelmed is perfectly acceptable. Anyone who thinks otherwise, well, they can raise THEIR own children as they’d like!

2. Emotions are complex.

It isn’t easy to allow ourselves to feel our feelings. It’s what I know to be true about myself, many of my clients, and the people in my life. But, for kids, it’s natural. Trying to silence a cry or apologize for their fear of an unfamiliar face invalidates your child’s emotions. It’s best to let them express what they’re feeling and if they’re old enough to discuss it after.

3. It’s not your responsibility to make sure others are comfortable.

Read that again. If an adult feels uncomfortable, frustrated, or worried about your child’s reactions/feelings, that’s on them! Continue to walk alongside your child and remind them that they are safe and you are present.

4. Emotion regulation changes over time.

Your child’s best chance of maintaining emotional intelligence is early support and validation. Label the emotion for your child, “It seems that you’re feeling frustrated,” or “I understand,” or “Your tears tell me you may be feeling sad, would you like a hug?”

5. Make emotions and feelings a part of the conversation and a normal experience.

Talk about how you are feeling, don’t hide your frustration or sadness. Instead, use those feelings to teach your children that it’s okay.

Remember, we are human, and we can’t have it all together all of the time. Especially our children!


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