Over the past week I have seen this post shared by quite a few friends on Facebook and, after seeing it shared so many times, curiosity got the better of me.
Definitely glad I took the plunge. (Take a moment to read it now… see you in a few minutes…)
Did you tear up?
Yeah, me too.
Oh have I had those days. Those moments of realisation that I should have really done something differently.
But more than anything, the article was a great reminder to me about one virtue that isn’t always easy to practice: forgiveness.
Not that I don’t forgive my kids when they shout at me. Or my husband when he accidentally steps on my foot as we’re scrambling to clean up after dinner…
No – it’s pretty easy to forgive others. But it’s not always easy for me to forgive myself.
What sort of example is this setting for my kids?! If I can’t take a moment to stand back, apologise when needed, and truly forgive – let go and move on – then how can I expect them to do the same?
When one boy crushes another’s paper airplane, or knocks over a beloved lego creation, it’s usually easy enough for us to work through the problem, say “I’m sorry,” and keep going on with our day.
That’s one part of forgiveness that is fairly straight forward (even though it takes a while sometimes).
Here are some activities that have helped us learn about and practice forgiveness:
For me, it’s the moments when one of my sons feels so bad about what they’ve done that are the most heartbreaking… perhaps because it reminds me of myself. It’s not easy to let go when you have made a mistake, particularly when your action (or inaction) has hurt someone else.
I want my children to be able to forgive themselves when they do something wrong – accident or not – so they can move on, love themselves, and do better next time.
If I want them to learn this, I need to start doing it myself.
Okay enough from me. I asked some other mothers how they try to teach the important virtue of forgiveness to their kids and here’s what they had to say:
“Forgiveness is a hard concept for children. To teach my older kids (ages 4 & 7) about it we like to start with stories. We frequently read or tell simple stories about someone doing something that hurts another person or that is mean, and then we talk about or role-play how to respond. We recently made a poster during our weekly family meeting listing ways to respond when someone does something hurtful and needs forgiveness. We keep it posted in a main area of the house so that it is easy to point to and help give kids a visual reminder if they need one. Practice and role-playing ahead of time really helps my kids have strategies to use when they need them.” – Kristina from Toddler Approved
“We focus on forgiveness particularly when a child brings up a past grievance. ‘But he took my ball last week and…’ For my kids, it can be the ‘forgetting’ part of the experience where they struggle, to let go of a past error in forgiving. In this instance, we talk about what the other person did to make amends and what we need to do in order to forgive and not continue to ‘punish’ for a past mistake.” – Sheila from Pennies of Time: Teaching Kids to Serve
“I don’t hesitate to apologize to my daughter if I’ve made a mistake and I don’t hold grudges. If something goes wrong, I’ll be mad, but then it’s time to move on.” – Emma from P is for Preschooler
What other thoughts or resources do you have about how to teach forgiveness to young children?
To browse more character building activities on my website, click here. You may also enjoy my ebook with 100+ activities in an easy-to-use checklist format, Playing with Purpose: Character Building Made Fun.