When someone wrongs us, it is natural to allow negative emotions to flood our minds. We yearn for our offender to admit guilt and to provide relief with closure. But whether you receive the apology that you desire or not, it is crucial to first and foremost, forgive. Forgiveness is a skill, so teach it. When applied and practiced, forgiveness can create a pathway for a much more peaceful existence with others, and therefore a happier life. Set your children off on the right foot by equipping them with the tools to successfully forgive others right from the start.
With every hurt we experience, we develop a realistic and mature view of life and the people in it. By growing from each hurt, we are given the opportunity to turn a period of grief into a triumph. Teach your little one that we achieve the most growth by feeling emotions, versus acting like we don’t care.
Help your child to explore their wrongdoer, instead of focusing on their action. Perhaps this person is experiencing their own hurt that has caused them to commit the offense. Explain that when someone is feeling sad they are prone to say or do things that they don’t really mean. People don’t generally go around hurting others purposefully, but it is usually a symptom of an internal conflict or emotion they are experiencing. There are two healthy ways to react and forgive: with love and compassion, or acceptance and silence. Forgiving doesn’t necessarily mean returning the relationship to the status quo, but of accepting the transgression and realizing that life is greater than a single violation. Teach your child to recognize their emotion, but to let go of the hurt and find their happiness.
When kids have been hurt, they will seek validation for their feelings. Help them to let their emotions breathe and vent in a healthy way, and then to forget. Be an excellent role model, and handle your own relationships with the art of forgiveness. Most importantly, always show your little ones true forgiveness, even when they hurt you. Eventually, your child will catch on to the prime example you have set, and will develop into an emotionally mature, forgiving adult like yourself.
For further tips and ideas about how to address your child’s feelings visit blog.wellbabycenter.org.