As adults, we know it’s important to be able to apologize to people we’ve wronged. It’s not always easy, and it can be really intimidating to humble ourselves to admit fault and ask for forgiveness. The best way to teach your kids this important life skill is to practice it on them, more than anyone!
How do you teach your child how to forgive?
I’d ask myself, “How do you explain forgiveness to a child?” The answer is simpler than we think. We teach by how we live our life.
Teaching Your Child Forgiveness
When I had three children aged five and under it kept things rather busy at our house. Often I found myself getting upset with the kids when it’s “one of those days!” Unfortunately, I found myself getting more and more upset and tense, till suddenly I explode, and yell at the offender, or whoever else is there to listen!Afterwards, I always felt bad and apologized.
I tell them, “I’m sorry I yelled at you. Mommy was upset, and even though you were doing wrong, I shouldn’t have yelled at you.”
Fortunately, our children are very loving and forgiving, and we end up hugging and saying “I love you.”
Often at the end of the day I have felt guilty, and like I wasn’t a good mom after yelling at my kids like that. But I’m glad that it’s something I can make right, while also teaching them the importance of apologizing when they wrong others.
I never thought of there being ANY positive influence in my negative behavior till something happened the other day. It showed me clearly that I HAD been teaching the children, though I really didn’t think of it that way.
My 5-year-old daughter was folding diapers for me when my two-year-old decided that she wanted to help too. Due to the fact that her efforts weren’t too successful, my oldest yelled at her and told her to leave the diapers alone, and quit messing them up. I corrected her for talking unkindly to her sister, and explained that she needed to show her the right way to do it, rather than yell at her.
After I corrected her she went in the other room, and to my delight, I heard her say to her younger sister, “I’m sorry I yelled at you. I love you.”
I really SHOULD have told her to apologize, but I didn’t think to, and that’s why I was so excited! She went and apologized all on her own!
Even though I do wrong, my kids can learn from it if I admit my mistake (or sin). If they never heard me say “I’m sorry”, they’d probably never say it either.
I’m glad the Lord uses me in spite of my mistakes! Let’s not be too proud to say “I’m sorry” when we make mistakes with our kids.
(An excerpt from my book Mirror Mirror on the Wall, Who’s the Best Mom of All?)
Why is it important to teach children forgiveness?
Learning to apologize and seek forgiveness is a life skill that must be taught and learned. Don’t let a day go by where you don’t demonstrate this practice to your children. When you mess up, don’t be hard on yourself. Use the opportunity to teach your kids that mistakes happen, but we can learn and grow from them. Imagine how far this will take them in life and their future relationships!