“Forgiveness shakes loose the calcification that accumulates around our hearts.” -Frank Ostaseski

Studies have found that young people who know how to forgive are generally happier, have stronger relationships, and even do better in heart school! The good news is that we can teach forgiveness.

An important foundation for learning about forgiveness is understanding the inherent worth and dignity of all people (UU principle 1) and the importance of kindness and respect (principle 2).

For young children, it is helpful to start learning about apologies and forgiveness with stories and scenarios. There are book suggestions on the padlet. You will find 2 characters to re-create situations with and practice. Using stories and scenarios, you can start to introduce forgiveness: when people forgive, they are kind to those who are not kind to them. When people forgive, they try to show respect to those who have not shown respect to them. It is also important to make it clear that there is harm that needs to be reported to a trusted adult.

Once your child begins to understand about forgiveness, you can start to apply it to personal situations and explore what it might look like.

For people of all ages, there are steps you can follow:

  • Acknowledging the feelings of pain: anger, frustration, sadness, etc.
  • Deciding that you are ready to forgive and realizing that it will cause less suffering for you.
  • Working through the idea of forgiving the person, even if you can’t heal the harm. For this step, it is helpful to remember the 1st principle of UUism - the inherent worth and dignity of all people. Empathy is really important in this step.
  • Noticing the impacts of forgiveness -- how it can be helpful & healing.

Questions to Explore

  • What is an apology? What does it sound like? What does it look like?
  • What is forgiveness? What does it sound like? What does it look like?
  • What are some examples of situations when you should get help from an adult?
  • Why is forgiveness important?