Teaching children to forgive may not be something that you would think about when it comes to parenting. It may be just part of your day, or not anything you really spent time thinking about as a parent. Don't overlook the importance of teaching your children the purpose and meaning of forgiveness, and how it can be one of the best things they can do for their own happiness.
Teaching Children to Forgive:
The younger you start teaching your children the better. The formative years (birth to five years) are the best time to introduce things that will make up their character.
With a few things in place, forgiveness will be something that becomes second nature for your children.
- Use the vocabulary – The term ‘forgive' is a strong word, far different than the substitue ‘it is okay', which is used when an offender apologizes to the offended. Teach your child at a young age to say ‘You are forgiven' because this goes straight to the heart and softens the offended.
- Embrace each other – In our family, we hug each other when forgiveness is being given, as an act that goes further than words. When you teach children to forgive, they normally desire to embrace the other naturally, so encourage this precious act to further aid in the process.
- Reinforce the Forgiveness – In a life of a child 5 year old and younger, the offenses usually comes from acts of unkindness, not sharing or in many cases, accidents. Some children have a hard time ‘forgetting' that they forgave the other person. This is okay, as we know the heart takes time to heal when it is offended. To teach children to forgive, we also need to help them walk through the lasting affects that may still linger if their hearts are still hurting. Reinforce this forgiveness by talking about the good things the offender has done for the hurt child and walk through the healing with them.
The more a child has the opportunity to use “I forgive you” in their own experiences, the likelihood of them walking through life without bitterness and hard feelings. Holding on to grudges and past hurts have been proven to more harmful to that person in the long run.
Your children's future will be happier from adding this one phrase to their own vocabulary, knowing how to do it on their own and making it a habit for life.
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