An old friend shared this post with me. As I started to read it, I thought about how I handle apologies with my own children. I am happy to report that I generally make the children go through the first three steps while using slightly different language.
I have always found that as a child gains maturity, expecting them to slow down and take a moment to think about their actions helps in many ways. We all know that children are impulsive. They often act or react without thinking about how they impact others. Making kids apologize on the spot does not give them time to reflect.
When it comes to bigger offenses, I make my children go to their room to think. I tell them they need to stop and think about what happened, what they are sorry about, and what they will do the next time. This is no small task for kids who are ego-centric (which describes all children.) They need to go back in their mind to think about the details of an event and imagine doing it differently. But I do think it helps them build emotional intelligence of many sorts.
This method requires a bit more patience and coaching on the part of parents/caregivers. You need to guide children initially to identify their role in every situation. But it works! It helps build children up. It helps them think about their friends, neighbors, and family in a different way. It helps them articulate feelings and grow.
Give it a try and let me know what you think.