Are you familiar with the childhood game often referred to as “Got you last”? The object of this game is to tag someone and then run away from them as fast as possible while yelling, “Got you last!” The final person to be tagged is considered the loser until they tag someone else. This game is so much fun—until it isn’t, and someone gets mad!
Children love to play games with friends, but many times the fun and games turns to crying and hurt feelings. What may seem like a small thing to us as parents is a very hurtful situation between children. We need to be sensitive to their feelings as they’re still learning how to get along with others, and forgive them when poor behavior gets in the way of fun times.
Forgiveness is something that is a bit difficult to teach children. A preschooler’s level of understanding at age four to five is only the beginning in realizing the relationship between their actions and the feelings of others. But older children can certainly start learning this important lesson of forgiveness and getting along with other people.
When talking with your older children about forgiveness, use a few of these simple examples to teach them skills in relating to others:
- Be honest about your hurt feelings.
Clear communication about the reason for your feelings will help with future situations in your relationship with the friend. An example of communicating honestly and clearly with your friend is to say, “It hurt my feelings when you made fun of the way I dress.” Or, “It makes me feel so sad when we’re fighting. I don’t want to fight with you anymore.”
- Admit your sorrow.
Even when we think the other person has wronged us, apologizing often helps restore positive feelings between both individuals. This should come sometime after honest feelings about the situation has been shared. Example: “You hurt my feelings yesterday when you made fun of me, but I still want to be your friend. I’m sorry for what happened between us.”
- Hug or shake hands.
A positive physical touch after making things right tends to bring about a renewed connection between friends. A quick hug or touching hands can show mutual feelings of wanting to let go of hurt feelings, and a desire to move forward in the friendship.
- Let go of the offense and move on.
Nothing says you’ve forgiven better than truly moving on by picking up again where things ended. Try your best to come up with an activity that both parties enjoy to help get past the prior hurt.
Pray for God to help your children understand forgiveness. A Bible promise that you can teach them is found in Philippians 4:13 where it says, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” God is faithful to resolve our conflicts and move us to a life of joy in our relationships with others.