Parenting Resources

Teaching Children to Forgive

There are many definitions of forgiveness, but the American Psychological Association defines it as a “process that involves a change in emotion and attitude regarding an offender.”  (APA Forgiveness – A Sampling of Research Results.  2008; p.5)

Forgiveness involves voluntarily and deliberately pardoning another person for a wrong inflicted without any attempt to inflict harm, retaliate or seek revenge with the ultimate goal of restoring the relationship.

Several centers in America are researching forgiveness and are finding that a person’s ability to forgive others directly impacts their physical and emotional well being.  One study of 1423 adults found the ability to forgive others was positively related to life satisfaction (Toussaint, L. L., Williams, D. R., Musick, M. A., & Everson, S. A. (2001). Forgiveness and health: Age differences in a U. S. probability sample. Journal of Adult Development, 8, 249–257) and another study found the ability to forgive others helped protect the individual from depression.  (Brown, R. P. (2003). Measuring individual differences in the tendency to forgive: Construct validity and links with depression. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 29, 1–13. )

Parents seem to intuitively understand the importance of forgiveness in sibling relationships – and in one survey 96% of parents felt it was important for their children to learn to apologize if they had upset another person. In the links below we will provide some simple things you can do to help your child understand the concept of forgiveness and practice it.