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Students learn how to apologize


It can be hard to say "I'm sorry," but it's important to do sometimes.

Apologies come up a lot in the news. On Monday, senior Army officials apologized for the treatment some wounded soldiers have received at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Last month, the Virginia legislature expressed "profound regret" that the state once supported slavery, and a NASCAR driver apologized because his team used a suspicious substance to fuel his race car.

Hurt feelings and mistakes, whether on purpose or by accident, are a part of life. When they happen, apologies often follow.

KidsPost asked some fourth- and fifth-graders at Kemp Mill Elementary School in Silver Spring, Md., how apologies worked for them.

"Apologies are the building blocks of friendship," said Kenda Tucker, 10. "Sometimes there is a problem with construction. It needs an apology to keep on building."

Some apologies seem more sincere than others. The kids agreed that looking directly into the other person's eyes lets them know you are truly sorry.

"Eye contact really does matter," said Kenda. "It helps them know that I'm really sorry from the heart."

A hug from a friend or family member will seal the deal.

"When someone apologizes to me, it makes me feel I'm cared about," said Larissa Prentice, 10. "When your mom hugs you, it makes you feel loved. When someone apologizes, you know it's sincere if they say it like they really mean it."

"If you don't say it in a loving way, they'll know you don't mean it," said Elizabeth McMillan, 10. "I would say, 'I'm sorry for everything I did. Would you forgive me and be my friend again?' "

To accept an apology from a friend, Elizabeth would say, "I forgive you. What you did was wrong, and you hurt me, but it's over."

When offering an apology, don't put your head down and talk to the desk or table instead of the person. "Hear how my voice echoes when I put my head down to the table? If they do that, they don't mean it," Elizabeth said. "They're just saying it to get it over with."

There are different kinds of apologies, too.

Kevin Moreno and Walter Vasquez, both 11, said they once got overexcited in class when they had a substitute teacher and disrupted the class. They had to write apologies to the principal and the substitute as well as tell the class they were sorry.

"We apologized and said, 'Do you forgive us?' " said Kevin. "Some said 'yes' and some said 'no, you kept us from learning.' " One thing that was most important, the boys agreed, was letting their friends and teachers know they wouldn't do it again.

"The second time the substitute came here," Walter said, "we acted better so that she would know we were really sorry."

Apologizing is important for both the person who was upset or hurt and the person who caused the hurt.

"On the inside you know you did something bad," Walter said. "You feel bad ... until you get the apology out."