I use to feel the social pressure of the perceived judgement of other parents and would demand a sorry from my child. I remember trying to extract a sorry from my 18month old when he took a tractor from another boy, the panic rose inside and I madly found myself apologising to the other mum. I'm so glad I've moved away from this.
Children's minds are not developed enough to give an apology on demand. They haven't had time to work out what it is they have done, let alone FEEL sorry for it.
I've dropped trying to please societies pressure and I've moved towards my children 'FEELING' what's happened first; this is the gift. In each altercation, there is an opportunity. An opportunity to build emotional intelligence, to grow empathy.
My children, even my youngest at 18 months, given the time and patience would FEEL the others pain. I could see it drop into their little bodies. The eyes would change, the body, the voice and energy, there was concern and empathy in their body and THAT is the apology. My little girl would toddle over and smooth her brothers face, or bring him a toy, THAT is the apology; not that 5 letter word that is thrown at a situation without thought or feeling just because its a done thing or to get us off the hook.
We have an opportunity to grow the emotional intelligence and enhance empathy in all of our children. Lets breath and take the time needed, without blame and judgement and teach our children probably one of the biggest life skills there is, to feel another's pain. In this way, it acts as the preventative tool. As they get older they already know the consequence of actions and it is this that stops them from bullying or being mean and not the fear of being slapped or isolated from the rest or shouted at.
We have an opportunity, so take it, even if it is uncomfortable at first when all are looking at you.
So here are the four steps to true Resolution
1) Make sure the injured or hurt child is alright, the broken toy or situation is safe..
2) Be gentle, describe what's just happened to your child, show them the pain and sadness the other is in or you are in. Get them to look at the situation and ask them how this makes them feel and where they feel this in their body; without the need for a direct answer as such. Older children can put it into words but with younger children, you'll have to help them name the feelings
3) Ask them what can they do to help their friend right now. What they can do to help the situation. Trust your child will feel the others pain and their own. They will 'feel' the sorry and affirm this in them noticing the 'sorry' when it comes.
4) Be big enough to drop it and not hang on to it and welcome the child back in with a clean slate. Don't refer back to it with blame and accusation rather refer back to it with the resolution in mind and how well your child worked through it and resolved it.