Reflections on Forgiveness

What you need:

What you do:

  1. Ask your child, "Have you ever said or done something mean to someone, and then been forgiven by them?"
  2. Ask, "What was that like? How did you feel to be forgiven?"
  3. Ask, "What does forgiveness mean to you?"
  4. Share about a time when you had done something mean or inconsiderate and were forgiven.
  5. Tell your child how you felt when the other person forgave you.
  6. Explain that we can make the choice to stay angry, or to use tools of mindfulness to support forgiveness and understanding, and forgive the other person.
  7. Ask, "How does anger feel in your body? Does it feel good?"
  8. Ask, "Would you rather feel angry at someone all the time? Or release the anger and feel uplifted?"
  9. Explain that they will practice heartfulness (sending kind wishes) for someone who has said or done something mean to them. If your child cannot think of an incident that is okay. You can still share the practice with them and try and come up with a realistic scenario that isn't too intense. For example, a sibling took a favorite toy of theirs without asking for permission.
  10. Ask them to still their bodies and to look down or to close their eyes.
  11. Guide them to take a few deep breaths into their belly.
  12. Ask them to think of someone who they may be angry with (on a scale of 1 to 10, where anger would be at a 5).
  13. Invite them to imagine the person is here with them now (and to notice how they feel).
  14. Guide them to think of this person as a young child (if it makes it easier).
  15. Guide them to look into this person's eyes. Ask, "Can you see the good in them? Can you see that they want to be happy and that they may be hurting in some way to have said or done something mean to you?"
  16. Explain that maybe they don't love themselves or someone else hurt them, and that is why they say mean things to others.
  17. Ask your child to place their hand on their heart and to notice their breath.
  18. Explain that this takes courage to send kind wishes to someone they may be mad at and to do the best they can.
  19. Ask them to feel their breath and their heart and to say in their mind to this person: "May you be happy." (Pause) "May you be healthy." (Pause) "May you love yourself just as you are." (Pause) "May you feel peace." (Pause)
  20. Ask them to imagine this person in a state of peace and calm.
  21. Ask them to notice how they feel in their heart (and that they may not feel anything and that this is okay, too).
  22. Guide them to take a few deep breaths into their belly and to let any image float away.
  23. Tell them to slowly open their eyes.
  24. Ask discovery questions, such as, "What did you notice? How do you feel? Was this challenging? Was it easy?"
  25. Explain to them that they are strong and courageous to send someone who has hurt them kind wishes (and that this is not always easy to do).
  26. Review the Letter of Forgiveness worksheet and help your child choose an appropriate situation and person to write a letter to.

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