Forgiveness is something which many adults find nearly impossible to do. This is a relevant issue even among devoted Catholics. The problem with the ability to forgive can begin in early childhood, which is why it is essential to do our best to teach our children, or any children we are responsible for to learn how to forgive. Here are the steps you should take if you want to help your kids learn how to embrace the idea of forgiveness so that they can grow up being more compassionate and understanding:
- Make sure you take the time to explain what exactly forgiveness means and what it is definitely not. Make it clear that being a person who is able to forgive someone does not mean that this person is weak or is giving up on their pride and rights to fight against unjust and wrongful treatment. Also, let the child understand that forgiving doesn’t mean just forgetting what happened with a blink of the eye, nor is it a form of retaliation for someone hurting another. It is essential that children come to understand that forgiveness is an entire process and how long it takes and the course it takes depends on the specific circumstances.
- Explain what “turning the other cheek” stands for. Children need to comprehend that this key phrase for all Catholics means that we should not return evil for evil, and yet does not mean that we should allow others to abuse us either. Kids should be taught that the proper way to respond to somebody who is physically or emotionally hurting them is to walk away and avoiding them rather than “hitting” them back – physically or verbally.
- Teach children how to properly respond in dangerous or bad situations. They need to adopt non-sinful ways to respond when they are in a dangerous situation or are being wronged. You can easily play out various scenarios with the children so that you show them that it is perfectly acceptable to walk away or stick up for themselves in certain situations. Also, make sure that the children understand that it is alright to call out someone for their wrongful behavior as well as talk to their parents or to a trusted adult about such issues.
- Help your children learn how important praying really is. Encourage them to draft their own prayer for forgiveness to God, or teach them a forgiveness prayer for children which can be found in various books for forgiveness
- Setting a personal example as a forgiving adult is probably the best way to teach a child how to become a forgiving person as well. Make sure that you do not set a bad example by arguing with others, holding grudges or speaking ill of others because children tend to adopt this kind of behavior pretty fast.