Note: All information on this site is for educational purposes only. Happy You, Happy Family does not provide medical advice. If you suspect medical problems or need professional advice, please consult a physician.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

38 Comments

  1. Seeing as how “Can we start over?” didn’t seem to work, I was expecting the magic phrase to be, “I’m sorry.” Why not apologize to your child, when you feel you could’ve handled things better, not raised your voice, been more curious and validating about her feelings? I find that sends the message that’s the right way to deal with actions you regret, and if you couple it with a commitment not to repeat, then you actually make progress in changing the harmful ways of communicating that have gotten you to the negative interaction in the first place. I’m not saying I have all the answers, but if I were the child, that’s what I would want. It’s also what I want when my children do not treat each other well. An apology, and a commitment to do better in the future. “Can we start over?” seems to me like an attempt to get the wronged party to forget the wrong. To me, it’s dismissive. And I don’t blame anyone who harbors ill-will after someone thinks they can ask for the slate to be wiped clean, when in fact they should acknowledge their errors and correct them.

    1. I agree. Why use “can we start over?” I was actually waiting to read the words.. “im sorry if ive hurt your feelings” or just”im sorry” “mom loves you no matter what” can we start over?! Seeiously?! Show and say your real feelings dont be a parrot

      1. Please don’t add “_if_ I’ve hurt your feelings.”
        That invalidates and softens your guilt.

        I know because I caught myself doing it and realized that’s how my mom apologizes.

  2. Melissa Misra says:

    I actually had this happen in my home. Believe it or not, it was facilitated by my husband. Now, we have been starting over. My daughter initiating. Words of wisdom woman. You go with your awesome self.

  3. Christina @TheresJustOneMommy says:

    I love this post! I have been at this point with my little girl for a while now, probably since she was 6 or so. She is 8 now. It seems we start with something simple, like asking her to pick up her shoes, and the next thing I know the day is going down hill fast. I am going to start doing this immediately. Thank you for sharing this bit of hope for those future tween and teen years where I know hormones are going to get into the mix as well and we are going to need that connection.

  4. I think that is a very bad advise. You teach your kid to be inconsiderate. You can not erase life. You can not erase hurtful feelings. You should teach that any word leave mark and can hurt. This is how abusive behaviour starts and mask it’s self. Imagine your husband calls you names and then asks you, oh honey, can we start over? Would that erase his hurtful words? Would you love him the same? In the field of emotions there is no erase button.

    1. I feel like this particular advise isn’t meant for adults who already *should* have the emotional comprehension to understand things don’t just get erased, it’s meant to help super emotional (and often hormonal) young people to understand that they don’t have to LIVE in the funk they’re feeling. Sometimes cleaning that mess up piece by piece can feel very daunting and so instead of turning their day around at some point they make a bad 5 minutes into a bad day and until they’ve evolved emotionally enough to understand the difference I think this could be a great tool.

    2. U simply can’t compare the relation of A parent /child relationship and that of a spousal relationship or a friendship is very different dynamics the relationship between a parent and their child is unique and has an entirely different structure. After I discipline my child I add everything I do is because I love you and now I can say do you know why I’m not gonna let you do this or that? And they answer because you love me . It’s a baseline of mutual respect and genuine compassion and care for letting them be human and apologizing when one is due then that’s all that matters. But to compare the two you really can’t .

  5. Love this phrase and will be trying it with my little ones! Sharing on my Motherload Madness FB page. Thank you!

  6. Erin newton says:

    I like this sentiment. I think My greatest weakness as a mom and person is that I find it very hard to forgive, even my 3 year old. Today he said “mom it’s ok to get angry but we can still love each other right? I just felt like such a twat cause I was still harboring anger over all the stupid annoying noises and the refusing to wear his hoodie, and the tantrum about having a picnic on the river instead of amongst the museum chaos. I had said something earlier when he was trying to reconnect and he said “mom it’s nice to hang out together isn’t it?” And I said “sometimes. I haven’t much enjoyed it today, but when you’re respectful and helpful and considerate….” and on and on. But I wasnt being constructive. I was just blowing off steam. Next time I’ll Just say “can we start over?” Mothering sure involves a lot more self I’m imposed guilt than i had ever anticipated.

    1. ChicagoMom says:

      That’s what happened between my husband and son today. I’m still kind of impressed bc my son reset his mood several times but dad was still short and pointing finger. Parenting is one of the hardest things ever. I don’t care what age my kids are but I’ve always shared how I feel and I explain my actions and apologize if I find it appropriate. Ego and pride are the enemies of healthy relationships.

  7. Juli Wheeler says:

    Oh my goodness! Thank you! I am desperately trying to reconnect with my 13 year old daughter after some difficult times and feel like a blubbering idiot while trying to do so! I have 6 beautiful blessings ages 17 all the way down to 2. I want to be the best mommy to them all (and wife for my husband)-marriage and parenting are the 2 most difficult jobs I’ve ever embarked on (I was a trauma RN at a very large hospital. It doesn’t hold a candle to this ?). So again, thank you! I’m buying your book today! God Bless!

  8. I love this so much! I’m definitely keeping this in mind for those moments that could definitely use a reset. Thank you for sharing :)

  9. Not great. First off, you don’t have a “tween”. A tween is the (lame) name now used for pre-teen and that is a 12 & 13 year old. Maturity level is very different between 8 & 13. When giving the examples you gave about her responses, to me (who has teens and pre-teens) she sounded like a petulant child. Then I thought to myself, ” wait, she is a petulant child at 8!” You have a young child. Not a tween. Not a pre-teen. And engaging her in argument is more about parenting choices than anything else. Second I agree that this is horrendous advice. You are essentially asking her to get over it when YOU’VE grown tired of arguing. The more appropriate response is not to engage in argument in the first place. She is a child. You are an adult, so adult better. If it escalates, apologize. In fact you are in the wrong for being the one in power and allowing things to escalate. An apology affirms her feelings while also showing introspection, repentance and humility. That’s 4 lessons in one.

  10. I love this, Kelly! I’m going to try it with my 11-year-old. Fingers crossed!

  11. This is horrendous and selfish advice. Apologizing and admitting wrong is way more effective and shows your child you are aware you hurt their feelings. I would not let my husband say nasty, hurtful words and then just say “Can we start over” Heck no. First you apologize and admit you hurt my feelings by doing so! This teaches your kid nothing and most definitely doesn’t validate how they’re feeling.

    1. Asking someone, anyone, especially a child to apologize when they aren’t sorry and/or possibly don’t really understand isn’t much better advice. Now we’ve added lying , on their part, and manipulation, on your part, to the bag. An apology should come when they are truly repentant, not because it makes you feel better after they’ve hurt your feelings.

  12. This is too good and the phrases specially, i just didnt know how to handle situations at my home, you are a big help!!!!

  13. Elizabeth Lewis says:

    Oh my goidness, Kelly, thank you SO much. I JUST used this with my 4 1/2 year old when she all-of-a-sudden informed me at bedtime that she DOES NOT want to go to Kindergarten this Fall…. She was getting snippier and I was trying not to do the same. She huffily laid back in her pillow “wearing” her pouty face, so, I gave her a minute or two of silence and then said, “hey, can we start over?” She said, “huh?” And I repeared myself and then…..a smile that lit up the room! We talked a minute or two longer, gave lots of hugs, and within a few minutes, she was asleep!
    I am so greatful for a way to reign in my frustrations so I can help her to do the same! ((Sorry for the super long post!))

  14. I think this is for the times you did not do or say anything that requires an apology, because there is nothing wrong about saying child A sleeps like child B so what would you be apologizing for? This is a perfect phrase for the times things just get away from you. I wish I could go back 20 & 10 years and start over a few times with son & daughter.

    1. @ Sooz Em – Absolutely – I think this is the point that’s been missed from some of the other comments I’ve read that sounded so shaming instead. I also did not hear this as an attempt to be excused from abusive or very poor behavior. And I do understand abusive, destructive behavior – after having lived with abuse for years, I got help, left & sought health instead & later became a trained peer counselor in that area to help others. Abusive behavior seeks to maintain its power over others, rather than looking for ways for both parties to be able to operate from a place of mutuality. What I took away from this was that the adult here did recognize a need for re-adjustment on both of their parts & extended the olive branch or grace for BOTH to do so, which can be a very grace-filled act of love & care & help de-escalate an emotional situation when done appropriately. It says, “I think we both could use a do-over & I’m willing – would you consider it as well?” That in itself acknowledges “I could have handled that differently.” I also think there’s a difference between times of careless, hateful, selfish behavior – which all of us humans have done at one time or another if we’re completely honest – & a conversation or situation getting away from you. And what I read above is the latter. Sometimes we all could use a grace card in these types of situations.

  15. May I share this post on my with my client moms? Love this!

  16. Thank you for this! I wish I had known how to soften myself when the kids were small but it took me till they were tweens to figure out that the phrase “would you like to start the day again?” gave us all a much needed reset. I also find myself apologising a LOT for those times when I’m tired and cranky and not patient. It cheers me to think that with practice I’ll keep catching myself earlier in the negative swirl! Thank you for sharing your experience so honestly.

  17. I just saw this from a rabbit trail on Pinterest. What a beautiful post! I love this! I will download the cheat sheet and use it with my children! ??

  18. Good article. I just have to know if your daughters’ initials being A, B, then , C was planned or a fun coincidence?!

  19. i wish this worked for my little “judy moody”. can i give you a hug? is met with, no get away from my personal space bubble. Take a deep breath? that is stupid. i love you even when you feel angry? i hate you. she just turned 7. lol. i’m dead. xx(

    1. We use the phrase “let’s have a do overand how would YOU like it to have been” or “I’m sorry, that didn’t go well for anyone! what would you like Mommy etc to do different”. I always assumed the position of I needed change, and gave her the power to be the one suggesting it. This helped tremendously as in less than two weeks the tone changes from what Mommy needed to change to how my daughter could do xyz, or what other actions could be impacting our feelings to make stuff escalate. It is a wonderful tool to get kids to think big picture. Often with Little’s it’s not even the current object that causes the breakdown it’s sometjing 4 hours or 2 days ago.

    2. Johna Howard says:

      Tickle them!!!! When you realize things are starting to get heated and they are unable to get past an incident or unable to get out of a mood just grab them and tickle them. You will know if it’s beyond that or not the right thing to do in that moment. Don’t waste anymore time…they will be grown and gone before we know it. I wish I would have tried it sooner with my oldest…but even as a moody preteen it has helped things quite a bit. Finally getting her to crack a smile and then laughter…..its great. her mood there after is brighter and playful. Make sure you compliment them on their smile and laugh……compliment as much as you can as often as you can.

  20. Why are people being so harsh ?? Kelly is just giving some advice trying to help out, take it or leave it but don’t criticize. This advice actually does work I’ve tried it with my own kids and when I need to apologize, I do. Thanks Kelly , keep up the good work, parenting is soooooo difficult but soooooo rewarding at the same time!!

    1. This is great advise, its like saying, lets not argue honey. Im sorry Iets make up.

  21. Maggie S. says:

    I realize this is an older article but I just came across it and feel I have to chime in. I love this advice. I have a very strong-willed 3 year old who has started sounding like a teenager. And believe it or not I do use this phrase with her and it works! Not all the time, but enough to keep using it! What I got from your article, and what I experience, is that our kids, at their different ages when they’re dealing with learning how to manage difficult emotions, their moods can turn so easily over the most minor annoyances and they don’t know how to snap out of it. I don’t see this as necessitating an apology as a parent to my child, we haven’t done anything wrong (although I absolutely do apologize to my sweet girl when I handle things the wrong way). More so I see that she needs the opportunity to start again, or permission, or help. There are times that I say this to her, offering a big hug, that she is so relieved! It’s showing that we don’t hold their struggles against them, and it’s teaching them that their mood doesn’t have to dictate their day. In these circumstances, an “I’m sorry” gives the wrong message, and it doesn’t make sense. Thanks for a great and thoughtful article!!

  22. What works for reconnecting with my 5-year-old daughter is giving her space for a few minutes to let her think about what’s going on so she has time to cool off. My next approach is always something I know she enjoys, we put our shoes on and go for a nice little walk outside and just talk about what happened-or maybe not-sometimes we’re mutual with just letting it go and talk about something else like what her favorite part of her day at school was or about what she did at recess. I find that little kids are so forgiving when you just show them that you care so much for them even when they are angry with you.

  23. thewordgirl says:

    I think some people may have missed the point of this. It was clear to me from the examples you gave that the phrase is not intended to to be used as a cop out where an apology is in order. It’s a tool to help CHILDREN have the chance to let go of a snowballing negative frame of mind when something’s occured that caused a sensitive reaction that’s turned into a sulk. I think this is a brilliant, emotionally natural tool that gives a kid a chance to “re-set” without losing face and without dis-acknowleding their right to their own feelings. Props to you – you’ve got a new subscriber. :)

  24. Kelly,
    Thank you so very much for this post! If I had the words years ago….I will begin now. I thank you for keeping it real and sharing the process, these things don’t take after the first ,2nd 5th time it’s time and time again we keep keeping on because the children are worth every effort.

  25. I was almost expecting the phrase to be, “ where did we go wrong?” I see both positive and negetive aspects to can we start over. I think it is important to start over but along with that should be a conversation. Something else that can help is to first change your attitude, no matter how upset you are, then find ONE thing to praise them for. Even if it’s something you don’t normally thank or recognize them for, such as “thank you for putting away your shoes” sometimes all it takes for a kid to change their attitude of being a “bad kid” is being treated like a good kid.

  26. I liked to use this strategy with the 1st graders I would work with. If the majority had a difficult day, or a lot of rules broken, we would discuss it and then I would say “ beep, push the reset button . Time to start over “. Sometimes it would be after the consequence we would “ push the reset button “.The littles loved it and would bring it up themselves towards the end of the year. knowing a hard moment doesn’t new to ruin the entire day. Great life skill and home and school. Don’t dwell, fix the problem, make better choices and move on :) thank you!