I’ve seen it time and time again, and I’m sure you have too… A child darts past another child, knocking over their block structure, yelling an un-empathetic “Sorry!” over their shoulder as they run off to continue their play. Young children are being taught to say “sorry” long before they are actually developmentally capable of feeling sorry for their actions. The act of saying sorry appeases adults because it’s the polite thing to do, but teaching children to say sorry is not the same as teaching our children to be empathetic towards others, and here’s why:
We’ve all seen the toddler meltdown. It’s that “end of the world,” sobbing tantrum over something so small you may not have even known what it was. A lot of the time, they don’t even know what it was. Toddlerhood is a unique time in childhood in which the child wants so desperately to be in control, to be “big,” and yet he is still so little. The desire for independence comes out through power struggles that make no sense, and parents are simply riding this roller coaster of toddler emotions.