How to teach children the value of forgiveness

Forgiveness is a critical component of emotional intelligence. It allows us to mend relationships, develop empathy, and overcome disagreement. Demonstrating forgiveness to children at a young age gives them a roadmap for handling conflict and acknowledges the ups and downs of all relationships. Here are five ways to teach children forgiveness. 

  1. Choose to forgive. Children pick up on our behaviors and emotions, so if you’re teaching your child to forgive, be sure you’re choosing forgiveness in your own life. Listen earnestly to apologies and choose to forgive those who make mistakes, including yourself. 
  2. Be present. It’s difficult to be in tune with our emotions when we spend the day running around doing 100 different tasks. Take time each day to sit and reflect on your personal emotions with meditation or journaling and then have a conversation with your child about what emotions they’re feeling that day. 
  3. Practice forgiveness. Many of us move on from disagreements or conflict, but that doesn’t mean we have truly forgiven the other person. Acknowledge how you were hurt by someone’s actions and then think about how to move forward without holding a grudge or resentment. 
  4. Use teachable moments. If your child forgets to do their chores, uses harsh language, or is mean to a sibling, use the moment as an opportunity to reflect on forgiveness. Ask your child to think about what they did, how it negatively impacted someone else, and practice expressing forgiveness when they apologize for their actions. 
  5. Be a role model. At the end of the day, children look to the adults in their lives for guidance on how to behave and process emotions. Practice forgiveness in your own life and share stories of forgiveness with your children so they inherently learn to practice it in their own lives. 

At the end of the day, we all make mistakes and forgiveness is the recognition that we are all human and all deserve a second chance. Use these strategies to impart the value of forgiveness to your children and even improve your own ability to forgive.

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