Why 4 is the right age to teach your child all about forgiveness
Let your kids learn that by forgiving others they gain greater control on their happiness. Read on to know what our experts have to say about the importance of forgiveness
Ira Kapur’s six-year-old son Veer was recently caught in a fist fight with his classmate. “Shaurabh took my bag and threw it on the floor, so I punched him,” he explained in a fit of rage when Ira prodded him about the altercation. After an hour-long discussion on learning to forgive, Ira was able to calm Veer and make him realise his mistake.
“It’s very important to teach children that they need to forgive and forget. Otherwise, they will keep struggling with petty issues," exclaims Ira, a Bangalore-based software engineer, who recently started a mother’s group at home.
Learning about forgiveness allows children to see different perspectives
With increasing stress and decreasing time spend with children, young parents are struggling to teach their kids the very basics. Freyaz Shroff, success coach and founder, KurNiv Success Solutions, Mumbai, says “Teaching children forgiveness is a good way for them to learn how to strengthen the bonds of love and build sustainable relationships well into adulthood."
Shroff feels that it allows children to start seeing different perspectives, "Just because someone has hurt them doesn’t mean that someone intended to do so. It may just be as simple as the fact that the someone who hurt them may be going through their own ‘storm.’ It allows children to gain perspective and empathy.”
Surabhi Verma, director, Sparsh for Children, Delhi, agrees and adds, “Everyone wants their children to be happy, not bitter or aggrieved. Teaching your child to forgive and move past things can build a healthier mindset. While we forgive, we place a string of optimistic reactions in movement. The opposite increases pessimistic emotions and devastation.”
Shroff states the following reasons why teaching your children about forgiveness is important:
- Forgiveness teaches children how to accept situations. It hurts, but it’s over and although we can’t change what happened (the past), we can change what will happen (the future).
- Forgiveness teaches children that they are in control of their happiness. If you wait for the opposite person’s apology, you put the control in that person’s hands; instead, just release the situation and choose peace for yourself.
- Forgiveness teaches children to communicate their thoughts. It allows children to identify their feelings when a particular situation occurs, such as anger, sadness, and fear. It allows them to tackle these feelings productively as opposed to developing unhealthy patterns of covering it up.
- Forgiveness teaches empathy to kids. It will allow them to develop a healthy habit of seeing an issue from a different perspective, including the perspective of the person who caused them hurt.
If you are, in fact, planning to sit for this soul class with your child, then begin when they are four years. Seema Hingorrany, Delhi-based clinical psychologist, says, “The right age to teach children is in their formative years which is age four. It is in this age when their brain starts to comprehend events in their surrounding.”
Continue reading to know more about the do's and don'ts of teaching forgiveness to kids
Do's and don'ts of teaching forgiveness lessons to kids
Experts suggest that it is important for the young parents to spend time with the child for them to learn basic human attributes. Hingorrany says, “This allows them to express what they feel and gradually makes them understand that mind and body gets negatively affected when they store anger and negative feelings towards people.”
It is the parents from whom a child learns life skills. It is not only the verbal inputs which will teach the child about the life skills (including forgiveness) but also the actions of the parents in front of the child. “Parents should be willing to be the support pillar of the child and solve the numerous queries which the child might have,” says Verma.
As our three experts suggest, keep the following in mind while teaching children the importance of forgiveness:
- Make any teaching interactive and use simple language and actions that the children can understand. Most importantly, be there for the child as a parent, friend and a teacher.
- Give examples from your personal experiences. Tell them how you forgave and felt happy. Story telling method is the best approach to teach forgiveness.
- Model the art of forgiving and letting go. We parents are the best role models children can have so teach them through your own kind actions of forgiveness.
- Understand what made your child angry or what caused the problem. This allows your child to practice the art of articulation. It will also help them identify what they are feeling.
- Teach the child to be empathetic and to think from other’s point of view as well, thereby building empathy.
- Help the child take decisions their own but be there to advice and correct, Make sure to teach your child the importance of learning, loving and sharing.
- Make them understand the difference between where he is wrong and where others are wrong to prevent the child from getting bullied.
- Don't try to sound as if you are lecturing your child. Begin early by using the golden words, such as ‘Please,’ ‘Thank You,’ ‘You’re Welcome,’ ‘Excuse Me’ and ‘Sorry.’ If you start emulating the behavior you want before your child can even speak, discipline and guidance will be that much easier once they do start speaking.
- Avoid interrupting your child's thoughts, let them share with you what they feel.
- Don't expect immediate results from your children; have faith and let them learn through hit and trial method. They should be able to identify right from wrong on their own.
- Don’t instantly tell your child to apologise; this makes the child feel that his feelings are not important.
- Don't do what you don't want your child to do. Avoid getting into arguments and scuffles, especially in front of your child.
- Don't punish. Through positive reinforcements, make the child understand his mistakes to ensure that he does not repeat it.
- Do not always find faults with the child and try to understand his point of view as well.
Experts suggest that parents must remember that the best quality one can have is to develop the art of forgiving and let go of hurt and resentment. "By doing so, not only will you develop a healthy mind, but healthy body as well," says Hingorrany.
If you have any more questions regarding the importance of forgiveness, please ask in our Comment box below.