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5 Tips for Teaching Kids to Forgive: Catholic-Style!

5 Tips for Teaching Kids to Forgive: Catholic-Style! September 9, 2014

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In the coming weeks here at The Catholic Book Blogger I will be featuring some guest posts from Pauline Books and Media authors as they conduct a Back to School Blog Tour. Today’s guest author is Nicole Lataif author of the books I Forgive You: Love We Can Hear, Ask For, and Give and Forever You: A Book about Your Soul and Body. Here’s where I will step aside and Nicole takes over……welcome Nicole!

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5 Tips for Teaching Kids to Forgive: Catholic-Style!

Forgiveness is one of the most difficult things to do, even for the most faithful Catholic. So, how do we teach children forgiveness when it is such a complex and difficult topic, even for adults?

  1. Explain what forgiveness is and what forgiveness is NOT. Forgiveness doesn’t mean being a  doormat: allowing ourselves to be emotionally, sexually or physically abused again and again. Forgiveness is not pushing the hurt under the rug and pretending like nothing happened. It is not retaliating or exchanging hurt for hurt. Children should understand that forgiveness is a process and each situation calls for its own evaluation. In some cases, a relationship may need to be permanently severed, but in most cases, discussion and reconciliation will take place.

  2. Understand what “forgive seventy times seven” and “turning the other cheek” REALLY mean. These phrases mean we are not to return evil for evil. They are not suggesting we be a glutton for abuse. It is always okay to protect yourself from being repeatedly hurt, either by walking away, avoiding that person or in extreme cases, severing the relationship. In the book, Forgiveness: A Catholic Approach, Reverend Scott Hurd explains how Jesus avoided unnecessary abuse: “On many occasions, [Jesus] avoided being hurt or abused. When he was a newborn, Mary and Joseph fled the country to protect Jesus from being killed by Herod’s soldiers. The Gospels reveal that at times, people tried to stone him or throw him off a cliff, but Jesus got away. Jesus avoided certain places where he knew that people were hostile to him. He taught his disciples to shake the dust from their feet and leave those towns that rejected their ministry…He did suffer horribly, of course, but only when it was necessary to fulfill his Father’s will.” 

  3. Talk about appropriate responses to bad situations. Sin often perpetuates sin, especially in kids, so they ought to rehearse non-sinful ways to respond when they are wronged. Practice scenarios. Explain that resistance might mean sticking up for themselves, talking to an adult, politely but firmly calling someone out on their behavior, walking away until the dust settles, exposing the sin, writing down their feelings, etc.

  4. Explain the importance of prayer. Forgiveness is hard for us, God’s strength is required. Help kids to draft a forgiveness prayer to God based on their individual situations. An example of a forgiveness prayer can be found in this kids’ book on forgiveness.

  5. Be an example of forgiveness.Walk the talk. If your kids see you holding grudges, speaking ill of others, ignoring hurts or retaliating, no amount of discussion will prevent them from doing the same. Harvard University graduate and Catholic, Tony Alagbile, M.Ed. explains here: “Like teachers, they [parents] must obey the rules that undergird effective teaching to achieve effective outcomes. More so, in teaching virtues, parents must hold themselves even more accountable to higher rules and to living a solidly virtuous life.”

Forgiveness is an important process that needs to begin in childhood. Start the conversation about forgiveness now so that children may grow into loving witnesses of Christ’s mercy.

About the Author – Nicole Lataif is the Founder and Editor of KidsFaithGarden.com and Author of the 2013 Catholic Press Association Award and 2013 Christopher Award winning book Forever You: A Book About Your Soul and Body, published by Pauline Books and Media. Forever You is also available in Spanish as Siempre Tu. Her second book, I Forgive You: Love We Can Hear, Ask For and Give teaches kids 4-8 what forgiveness is all about. Nicole is available for speaking engagements, school visits, interviews, and guest blogging. Media inquires may be sent to admin@kidsfaithgarden.com.

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