Teaching Kids the Value of Forgiveness

Teaching Kids the Value of Forgiveness

christian parenting christian values forgiveness May 10, 2024

Teaching Kids the Value of Forgiveness 

Encouraging Forgiveness in Children and Building a Forgiving Home 

On any given day, there may be two inevitable sounds that fill your home: joyful laughter and frustrated bickering. Whether the source of frustration is a toy for toddlers, a remote for preteens, or the latest drama for your teens, tempers may flare, tears may fall, and you will likely find yourself routinely taking on the role of peacemaker (or referee).  

As you master this skill of conflict resolution, you guide them- not just to solve the issue at hand, but also to understand and practice forgiveness. Over time, the tears and accusations give way to ideas, and the ideas form into a plan that leads the family forward. 

This scene, common in many homes, is about more than just keeping peace. It’s about nurturing a forgiving heart, teaching your children that forgiveness can rebuild bridges, and perhaps even make them stronger than before.  

Forgiveness teaches resilience and empathy. It’s an ongoing lesson that even when someone hurts us, whether on purpose or by accident, the relationship is still worth repairing. Even in cases (usually later in life) where the relationship becomes unsalvageable, forgiveness is always worthwhile 

Perhaps your child comes home feeling wronged by a friend. This presents yet another teachable moment. By discussing these hurts openly and exploring solutions together, you help your child learn the art of forgiveness, which is crucial for maintaining and deepening relationships throughout their lives.   

For Christian families, these moments are about more than resolving conflicts and maintaining relationships; they're also wonderful opportunities to embody the teachings of Christ. Forgiveness has the power to affect our emotional and spiritual growth. It’s a cornerstone of our faith and a fundamental aspect of creating a nurturing and loving environment at home. 

Today we’ll discuss why forgiveness is so crucial, using biblical teachings and psychological insights. We'll also offer actionable tips for instilling this virtue in your children and discuss how to foster an atmosphere of forgiveness that radiates within your family life. 

Let’s explore the beauty of incorporating forgiveness into our daily interactions and teaching our children to let go, mend, and grow through the challenges they face in a way that pleases and honors God. 

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The Importance of Forgiveness 

Forgiveness is a key theme featured in Scripture. Colossians 3:13 teaches us to “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Just think about that for a moment truly in the context of the way the Lord forgave us. We were entirely in the wrong. We were entirely undeserving. We didn’t even ask for it. And yet, Jesus suffered on the cross for us, to forgive us. Many times, we try to give ourselves an ‘out’ by saying what someone has done is beyond forgiveness, or maybe that they need to ask for your forgiveness before it will be given. Understand that God did not tell us to forgive when it’s easy or convenient. He told us to forgive others as the Lord forgave us 

Spiritually, forgiveness is fundamental because it frees you from the burden of resentment and bitterness that can weigh you down and allows you to experience God’s grace fully. This not only brings you peace but also teaches your children an important lesson about understanding others and seeing them through the loving eyes of Jesus. 

Teaching children the importance of forgiveness is important for psychological reasons as well. Studies have shown that children who have learned to forgive are happier, have better relationships, and perform better academically. They are also less likely to hold grudges, which contributes to lower levels of stress and anxiety. Forgiving helps children handle their emotions better and teaches them how to deal with conflicts in a healthy way. This prepares them to face life’s challenges with resilience and empathy, promoting a happier, more fulfilling life. 

Encouraging Forgiveness in Children 

Teaching children about forgiveness is crucial for their spiritual, emotional and social development.  

Here’s how you can help your kids understand and practice forgiveness: 

Model Forgiveness- Children are observant; they learn from watching how adults behave. Show your children how you forgive others and talk to them about why you chose to forgive. Explain the sense of peace and resolution it brings, and let them see firsthand the positive impact forgiveness can have on their relationships and wellbeing. 

Discuss the Benefits- Make it clear to your children how forgiving others can positively affect their own feelings and happiness. Use simple language to explain that holding onto anger can weigh them down, whereas forgiving can lighten their hearts and improve their relationships. Stress that forgiveness often leads to happier lives and better interactions with friends and family.  

Teach Empathy- Encouraging empathy is a powerful step toward fostering forgiveness. Help your children understand how others might feel in different situations, especially when someone is hurt. You can ask, "How would you feel if you were in their place?" This helps them appreciate the feelings of others and why forgiveness might be necessary. 


By focusing on these areas, you not only teach your children why forgiveness is important but also how to incorporate it into their everyday lives, promoting a more empathetic and understanding approach to the people around them, and subsequently, for themselves.  

Building a Forgiving Home 

Creating an environment that encourages and models forgiveness daily is essential for instilling this value in children.  

Here are some practical strategies to help build a forgiving atmosphere in your household: 

Family Forgiveness Activities- Incorporate activities that promote forgiveness into your family routine and make this a regular topic of discussion. Discussing the feelings involved in both forgiving and being forgiven can help everyone understand and appreciate the process more deeply. These activities not only teach forgiveness but also have the added bonus of strengthening family bonds. Share stories from the Bible or other inspiring narratives that highlight forgiveness, such as Christian children’s book Happy Are The People, and connect these lessons to situations your family might encounter in daily life. This ongoing discussion will help normalize forgiveness as a natural and essential part of dealing with conflicts and misunderstandings. 

Create a Forgiveness Ritual- Establish a family ritual that encourages the practice of forgiveness, such as a forgiveness session (often incorporated into weekly family meetings). Family members can share small annoyances or misunderstandings over the past week and practice forgiving one another. As a family, you can discuss and reiterate the importance of letting go of minor issues in love. This ritual can turn forgiveness into a tangible and regular practice within your home. 

Praise Forgiving Actions- Whenever you notice your child forgiving someone, make an effort to recognize them. Acknowledge the strength and maturity it takes to forgive, emphasizing that forgiveness is a sign of emotional intelligence and character strength. Positive reinforcement like this not only affirms their actions but encourages them to continue behaving in a forgiving manner. 


These strategies help to create a forgiving home where children learn that forgiveness is not just an occasional act, but a natural, habitual response. 


Teaching forgiveness equips your children with essential life skills: the ability to maintain peace within themselves and to foster healthier relationships. By teaching your children the value of forgiveness, encouraging forgiveness in them, and building a forgiving home, you lay the groundwork for them to lead fulfilling and gracious lives. These efforts ensure your children are well-prepared to handle life's inevitable challenges and conflicts with grace. As you guide them, focus on reinforcing these values through consistent examples and clear, actionable practices so that forgiveness is not only viewed as a moral obligation but as a practical approach to living a more balanced and faith-aligned life. 

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