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How to Teach a Child Forgiveness | World of Psychology

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http://psychcentral.com - Children are often asked to forgive: forgive his sibling for taking their toy; forgive Johnny for pulling her hair at recess; forgive Mom for being late.



When you ask your child to forgive — to say “okay” when someone has said they are “sorry” — does your child really understand what that means? Did they let go of the issue or are they repeating what you are telling them to say?



It is important for children to understand compassion, loving-kindness, and forgiveness. Teaching your child to forgive is an essential life tool that will make navigating childhood and adolescence easier. Holding on to anger and resentment is a recipe for anxiety and depression for children and adults. The earlier forgiveness is taught, the earlier you can prevent children from taking on the victim role. That in turn helps prevent anxiety and depression.



So how do you teach forgiveness?





7 Ideas on Teaching Children Forgiveness



While there’s no sure-fire way to teach your child forgiveness, some of these ideas may help get you started.



1) Forgiving is not forgetting.



Children — and many adults hesitate to forgive because they believe it means condoning the other person’s behaviors. There is also a misperception that forgiving means forgetting, which might bring on fear it will happen again.In reality, to forgive is to say,” I did not like or appreciate your words or actions, but I am willing to let it go because it does not help me to hold onto these feelings.”



2) In order to forgive sometimes we need to look beyond the action and explore the person.



For example, if your child is upset Susie called him or her a name during recess, help your child explore what was happening. Maybe Susie was on the outskirts of the hop-scotch game and wanted to play. Maybe she felt bad she was not invited to play or was jealous of those who were. Helping your child understand a possible trigger for the person’s actions encourages compassion and forgiveness.

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