Teaching Your Child Forgiveness

Apologizing is an important skill for us to master, and it’s important that you (and me, too!) are teaching your child forgiveness. We need to raise them to know that apologies aren’t a sign of weakness, but rather an indication of character and strength. 

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!

What I mean by this, is we need to see our weaknesses as we parent them and apologize to our kids when we know we wronged them. 
I know when my kids were younger and I was in the thick of raising all of them, there were times where my patience was tried. And as much as I hate to admit it now, I would yell at my kids. Sometimes for silly reasons.

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. 

But the lessons we can teach from those weak moments can be life-changing. Read the excerpt below from one of my book “Mirror Mirror on the Wall, Who’s the Best Mom of All?” and see if you can relate!

Teaching Your Child Forgiveness

Image reads "I'm sorry for yelling at my kids" shows a mom talking to her daughter. Are you 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?)

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!


Are you teaching your children forgiveness? Image reads "Sorry for yelling at my kids"


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12 Responses

  1. Laura, I love how you worded that – the idea that God can redeem our mistakes. Good thing He can turn them into teaching times for us to use with our kids. I think any time we mess up in front of the kids, it’s the perfect opportunity to talk about it, and show the importance of apologizing and making things right.

  2. Thanks Jenn! You are right – seems like the training will never end on most days. 🙂 But we can’t get weary in doing right, because we will reap results in time.

  3. I love hearing how your 5 year old apologized on her own, Kathie. Some days it seems like my endless efforts to get our children to say sorry (for real) don’t work, but good seed always produces good fruit, even when it’s long in coming 😉 Thanks for linking up at Mom 2 Mom Mondays!

  4. I think is something we all as parents go thru, the yelling, and then the guilt of it. We can only keep working on it.

  5. I love this! While I certainly can’t justify making mistakes just so my kids will learn from me, I am thankful that God can redeem my mistakes so that my kids can learn from them!

  6. Helene, I agree! We can’t force them to make sincere apologies that are from their heart, but by us setting an example of that, they are more likely to be sincere.

  7. Making kids apologize is only half the job, letting them see us be sorry from our heart for our mistakes is the other half!

  8. Dawn, I don’t think there’s ANY mom who hasn’t/doesn’t yell at their kids at some point or another. Realizing it and apologizing saves the relationships, as well as teaching the kids how to apologize.

  9. Kim, thanks for stopping in! You are definitely at a busy time, and I remember how easy it was to get stressed/frustrated when my kids were at those ages. Apologizing is the best thing to do, and I love how my kids always sweetly said “I forgive you Mommy. I love you!” as they hugged me. 🙂 “Those days” also caused me to depend on God!

  10. Hi Kathie!
    Thank you so much for your post! I have two little ones at home, a three year old and a 16 month old. I too find I have “Those days” where things just get under my skin. I try to apologize to the kids when I react poorly and I have had some sweet moments as they learn by example what true reconciliation should look like. It will be exciting to see how they resolve issues between them as they get old enough to both talk!
    Thanks again!
    Visiting from Equipping Godly Women

  11. I find myself yelling at my kids when I know I shouldn’t, too. That is so good that your kids are learning to make things right when they lash out negatively.

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