I see the following scene all the time: kids who have just hit one of their parents at the park, rolling their eyes and screaming "sorry" as they go running off to play with their little friends. Do they know what they are apologizing for? Do they understand what they did wrong? Do they even care? Are they really sorry? I've never understood why people accept BS apologies. Even as adults, when we do something wrong, we often throw out and accept the quick, "Sorry!" We do it because this is what we were taught.
That's not good enough, not for my family. At our house, an apology has to be a straight up in your face apology. There has to be good eye contact and it's got to be specific....
"I'm sorry for hitting you."
"I'm sorry for hurting your feelings."
"I'm sorry for throwing a tantrum."
The victim involved then has the right to accept or to not accept their apology. Here's the criteria: Were they looking in your eyes when they said I'm sorry? Did they really mean it? If you don't think so, say "I don't accept that apology." If they accept the apology, the victim looks the perpetrator back in the eyes and says "Thank you for apologizing."
Children need to learn empathy. They need to understand that their words and/or actions can hurt people. It is our job to teach them. It is our job to be the example for them. When we have hurt their feelings, we as parents need to apologize to them in the same respectful manner.
When we do this, we have set an example. We have to set the STANDARD.
Think about it.