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It isn’t hard though, it just takes a few simple steps and then lots of practice. If your home is anything like mine, your child will have plenty of times to practice—especially if they are not your only child.
These are the steps I find it helpful to follow when teaching young children to be sorry.
First they must understand a few basic concepts:
- Being sorry means that you are thinking about others rather than about yourself.
- Being sorry means that you need to be forgiven, but there are also times that you will need to forgive others.
- If someone else says that you have hurt them in some way, you need to be truly sorry whether or not you meant to hurt them or think that you did. If they feel hurt, you need to fix the hurt you were a part of.
Then they need to understand that:
- Being sorry means that you are sorry, but it ALSO means that you will do your best to not do it again.
Being sorry means doing these things:
- Saying I’m sorry for the specific action and then asking for forgiveness.
- Being sorry is not making excuses or placing fault or blame on the other person.
- After forgiveness has been given in my home, my children have to hug one another.
- They also have to pray to God for forgiveness because they have also wronged God by hurting one of His children. Then, they need to pray for God’s help to not repeat the behavior.
When a child is granting forgiveness, these are important concepts to understand:
- Forgiving someone is forgetting about what they have done and not bringing it up again.
- True forgiveness means not holding a grudge.
- Forgiveness does not mean that you agree with the other person…you just agree to forget what was done and move on.
- Forgiveness is more for the one who needs to forgive since they are letting go of anger and hurt. This is a very freeing feeling.
- Sometimes I find it effective to have children involved in a conflict to list ten things they love about the other person…or ten kind things to say about the other person.
We live in a world where conflict is simply a reality. Your child will hurt others, and your child will be hurt. Learning to be sorry and learning to forgive are essential skills they will need for the rest of their life.