via Huffpost: As parents, we must teach our children the realities of life. Life hurts us, people hurt us, we hurt other people and we hurt ourselves. That is what relationships and life are about. The sooner we let our children in on this secret, the healthier their life-approach will be. We must teach that life is not built to be fair. The relationships our children have will, for certain, be their greatest teachers of love and pain. They will never need to use forgiveness more than in their relationships. Forgiveness is many things — but we also must teach that forgiveness doesn’t always mean reconciliation. It is not about condoning harms which have been done. Forgiveness is about taking power back.

5 Ways To Empower Our Children:

1. Let go of the need for closure.
When we have been hurt, we want people to be sorry for what they did. We get so hooked into this that we put our happiness on hold until we get this “apology.” Our children need to understand these apologies rarely come, and each day they are waiting to feel good until they get the apology they believe they need is another day wasted on a person who doesn’t deserve their head space. Closure comes from within and in their ability to let go and move on.

2. Accept what has been done.
What is done is done. They have already been hurt; the attack has happened, and no amount of their anger or sadness can or will change that. We have to teach them that when they can accept there is no way to reverse the damage, they can move on and not give any more time to something they cannot change. This liberates and brings the power to determine their own worth back to them.

3. Grateful thinking.
It is important to teach the “sliver lining” theory to our children. There is positive thinking and negative thinking; each can be an extreme path to take after we have been hurt. There is something disingenuous about a strictly positive thinker, because life is hard and to be positive all the time is not realistic — and to be consumed in negative thought is simply a lack of effort. Grateful thinking is that middle ground where we teach our children to accept life on life’s terms and to find the good in the painful and in the wonderful.

4. Forgiving is a verb.
We need to teach our children the importance of time when they have been hurt, because hurts don’t usually heal quickly. Forgiveness is not an event; it is a process. Their feelings are going take time to process, and they need to know this is OK. Their emotions are healthy and they, like us, need to experience the full range of emotions when they have been betrayed before they can get clear about what they need to do next.

5. We come through every hurt stronger.
If we can show our children that how things are supposed to be is often very different from how they turn out, this will help them develop a realistic and mature view of life and people. With each hurt, our children have the opportunity to turn a grievance into a success. We must show them their emotions are natural, and that they grow the most by being more human (feeling emotions), not by being less human (acting like they don’t care).

We owe it to our children to teach them that forgiveness is the continual process of understanding that, no matter how much they want to have life lived according to their ideas of fairness, it doesn’t work that way. When they can see forgiveness doesn’t always mean taking a person back who has hurt them, they can breathe. All forgiveness means is accepting that what happened cannot be changed and no amount of their pain, anguish or anger is going to undo what was done.

Little Life Message: Teach your children that their best revenge is to move on and find their happy.

via PsychCentral: Children are often asked to forgive: forgive his sibling for taking their toy; forgive Johnny for pulling her hair at recess; forgive Mom for being late.

When you ask your child to forgive — to say “okay” when someone has said they are “sorry” — does your child really understand what that means? Did they let go of the issue or are they repeating what you are telling them to say?

It is important for children to understand compassion, loving-kindness, and forgiveness. Teaching your child to forgive is an essential life tool that will make navigating childhood and adolescence easier. Holding on to anger and resentment is a recipe for anxiety and depression for children and adults. The earlier forgiveness is taught, the earlier you can prevent children from taking on the victim role. That in turn helps prevent anxiety and depression.

So how do you teach forgiveness?

7 Ideas on Teaching Children Forgiveness

While there’s no sure-fire way to teach your child forgiveness, some of these ideas may help get you started.

Forgiving is not forgetting.
Children — and many adults hesitate to forgive because they believe it means condoning the other person’s behaviors. There is also a misperception that forgiving means forgetting, which might bring on fear it will happen again.In reality, to forgive is to say,” I did not like or appreciate your words or actions, but I am willing to let it go because it does not help me to hold onto these feelings.”

In order to forgive sometimes we need to look beyond the action and explore the person.
For example, if your child is upset Susie called him or her a name during recess, help your child explore what was happening. Maybe Susie was on the outskirts of the hop-scotch game and wanted to play. Maybe she felt bad she was not invited to play or was jealous of those who were. Helping your child understand a possible trigger for the person’s actions encourages compassion and forgiveness.

Before asking your child to let go, forgive, or excuse a behavior, it is first important to identify the feeling your child is experiencing.
Is he or she angry, embarrassed, or disappointed? He or she needs to understand how the incident made him or her feel before he or she can forgive.

State the feeling before offering forgiveness.
Instead of asking your child to immediately accept their sibling’s “I’m sorry,” have them state how they feel. For example, “Jenny, I am angry you borrowed my shirt without asking. Please ask me before taking my things next time. I forgive you.”

Once the feelings are understood, visualization can help your child let go of any harbored feelings.
Hand your child a pretend balloon. Ask him or her to think about the feelings he or she stated — anger, sadness, embarrassment. Then ask him or her to blow all of those feelings into the pretend balloon. Tell him or her that the balloon is tied to him or her by an imaginary string. When he or she is ready to let go of the feelings, hand over pretend scissors to cut the string and release the feelings. Help your child imagine the balloon sailing high into the sky. When ready, imagine that the balloon gently pops, spreading a dusting of love and compassion to both parties. Remind your child it might take more than once and they can practice the visualization as much as they would like.

Write a letter.

This is a helpful exercise, particularly for teens. Practice writing a letter stating what caused the upset and how he or she feels about it. Then have your child write a compassion statement or one of forgiveness to the offender and to him- or herself. End the exercise by having him or her rip the letter up into the garbage, signifying the release of forgiveness.

Be the example.
Show your child how you forgive others.

It is important for children to understand that learning to let go may take time. The important lesson is to keep trying, making efforts, understanding forgiveness and loving kindness. Anger plus anger only equals more anger. Compassion and love are what heals.