I was blessed to grow up in a home where the concepts of forgiveness and restoration were modeled often. None of us were perfect, so we had ample opportunity to make sure we got it just right. It doesn’t take long in a home environment before someone does something wrong, hurtful, or inconsiderate. And it doesn’t take long for sin to rear its ugly head in the lives of little ones. (A devastating result of our fall).
So, my husband and I purposefully figured out a way to help model forgiveness and restoration to our little one, in terms she can understand. We don’t kid ourselves that she fully understands the ramifications of all her actions and words, and the meaning of true repentance, forgiveness, and restoration; but hopefully, the pattern she sees in our dealings with her will point to the pattern of God’s forgiveness and restoration and show her a measure of the grace and mercy God demonstrated to us.
When something goes horribly wrong, this is what we do:
Point out the problem
Sometimes this just means showing her what she did wrong. Sometimes this requires a bit more.
We tell her she needs to say, “I am sorry.”
Immediately upon hearing, “I am sorry,” we tell her “I forgive you.”
A kiss and a hug, an “I love you!” and off we go. We try not to bring it up again unless it happens again.
It is such a basic process, but we make sure we do it EVERY time. She has come to expect it, know the steps, and lead us in the process. Every once in a while she wants to skip right to the hug and the kiss, but we gently remind her that she needs to say, “I am sorry.” This is not to say that we have not already forgiven her, but more for her to understand what remorse is.
This process has also given us opportunity to demonstrate to her that we mess up too. There have been times when we have been too harsh with our tone or done something she doesn’t like and we have had the opportunity to apologize to her and receive forgiveness from her. The restoration is the best part!
How do you work out problems with your young ones?