Simon Cowell says his son inspired him to soften his notoriously harsh judging critiques.

The 56-year-old discussed his new approach in the June 13 issue of People magazine. Cowell is dad to 2-year-old son Eric with partner Laura Silverman.

"There's no question when you actually have a kid, it does make you feel different because you understand how you would feel if it was your son up there," the star explained.

Cowell has served as a judge on several reality competitions, including "American Idol," "The X Factor" and "America's Got Talent," where he is known for making blunt and sometimes insulting comments about contestants.

"I'm very conscious that the kids who audition for 'AGT' want to be there, they're not being pushed into it, and that they're having a great day out, otherwise we wouldn't see them," he told the magazine.

"I think 'X Factor' and 'Idol' were edited so that I was always seen as this bad-tempered, miserable whatever -- which of course I am at times, but I'm not like that the whole day!" the star added.

Cowell had nothing but praise for 13-year-old Laura Bretan on the "America's Got Talent" Season 11 premiere on Tuesday. The teenage opera singer blew the judges away with her rendition of "Nessun Dorma."

"I have never heard anything like that in all the years I've been doing this show," Cowell said. "It was unbelievable. What made it even better is the fact that you are such a sweet person. So humble. Not even aware of how amazing you are."

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Cowell will return as a judge on the U.K. edition "The X Factor" Season 13 this year. The television personality will be joined by Sharon Osbourne, Nicole Scherzinger and Louis Walsh.