On a daily basis, we as teachers and parents, run into situations where children are arguing or fighting. Oftentimes, this arguing leads to hitting, spitting, kicking, and sometimes to biting.
After figuring out the entire situation, we find out who the hitter was and who the "victim" was. We then tell the hitter to say "Sorry" to the other child. The refusal to apologize sometimes creates a whole other argument and problem.
While we may assume that teaching children to apologize after doing something to another child, there are some reasons we need to consider to NOT force children to say sorry.
1) Do children really understand what it means to say "Sorry?" It is honestly just another word to them. We need to sit down and teach the meaning, "sorry" as a feeling, such as "sad" or "mad."\
2) Everyone is entitled to their own feelings and they don't necessarily HAVE to be sorry. There have been times where I have done things to people that I truly am not sorry for doing; children should have this right to decide their own feelings as well.
3) We shouldn't force children to say "sorry" because WE want them to be sorry. We need to encourage apologizing because the CHILD is truly sorry for their action.
4) The feeling may not be justified. The child needs to understand that what they did was not a good choice and that their behavior was wrong. You can't be sorry for a behavior that you don't understand was wrong.
When dealing with situations and problems between children, we need to make sure to teach them how to solve those problems with words, not our hands (or feet, teeth, etc.) We need to teach that words have meaning and when you use a word with feeling behind it, you need to mean it!
We also need to keep in mind that words do not have magical powers and words are not what actually fixes the problem.
Katie Zink, ITFS/P