Forgiveness is both difficult and beautiful. Being an adult at times it is difficult to forgive someone or forget things as ego takes over everything. With children it is even more difficult as they merely have a picture of looking at it in a different perspective.
Fighting, arguing or blaming among siblings are quite common but when children hold resentment for a longer period of time or do not want to forget bitterness it is always recommended to teach them the importance of forgiveness. It can be forgiving others or oneself. For instance a child might blame his/her sibling for taking stationery without permission, repeat the same action by reminding the old incident. This is a chain reaction in almost every relationship. As a parent, it is quite difficult to make children understand how to stop, which when stopped soon might turn into rivalry. The problem here is children are not told how to respond to these negative emotions instead they take action towards a person, and situation which brings their downfall.
Therefore when children talk about having resentment, or use “I won’t leave you” kind of phrases, they are talking in terms of their perspective. They might be right or wrong but the reaction might be bitter (yelling, taking revenge), which infact will go on to damage the relationship. When children understand it is the person who is more important than the actions, the concept of forgiveness can be easy to teach.
In this background, how one can make them understand, let us see below:
l Make children understand what is forgiveness
There is always an argument when we talk about forgiveness, that is “why should I let go” or “I did not do anything wrong”. People always think that forgiving means surrendering in or giving up in front of the other person. But the meaning is way beyond what is understood by us. The real meaning of forgiveness is regardless of what had happened, I do not want to hold on to it, and move on. So this concept is vague for children. So let them realise the different feelings they go through when they are being right or wrong.
l Explain them the different feelings
Let children be aware about how do they feel when they go through different situations that make them angry or resentful. For instance a girl always complains about being bullied for her physical appearance. At first she feels bad and later she turns resentful towards those bullies. Always harsh with her words when she talks about them. In this case lack of self-esteem or that the other children might be feeling jealous of her achievements regardless of her physical appearance could be the probable reasons. However, in such cases make children understand why do they feel such a way, and what can be done further which can be helpful. Next time they are much aware about their response towards those situations once they have sorted out their feelings.
l Tell them that it’s over but you can always patch up
Things that have happened cannot be changed but you can always learn something out of it. When there are arguments between parents, siblings, or friends one or the other will get hurt. Later it is carried on with bitterness. But teaching children about simple things like apologising, giving gifts or gratitude cards, will be always pleasant but this process needs to be reciprocal .When you try doing these things children will pickup such habits.
The act of forgiveness has got lot of advantages. It makes you peaceful and calm. One can lead a happy life without any regret. So when children find it difficult to let go and trouble dealing with negative feelings, it is our responsibility to make sure they can still move on and find good in everything.
Image by Peter Dargatz