I am often surprised at the way children hang onto old hurts and cannot let go of the past.
One child I worked with in our EQ4KIDZ program had hung onto a past resentment for 4 years! It was actually quite trivial – to me- not to him!)
His mother had forgotten she was taking him to a movie and had made other arrangements. This happened when he was 7 and it was fermenting inside him still at 11 years!
We teach children about the power of forgiveness in week 4 of our EQ4KIDZ course and for many children this is a complete revelation.
I usually come out bending over as if my back has a heavy load and the children ask me, “Vicky! What’s the matter?”
“I am angry with lots of people and I am not going to forgive them! They should pay for what they did. I will never stop being angry with them!”
“What did they do? When did it happen?” they ask.
“Oh- about 10 years ago but they didn’t say sorry so I will NEVER forgive them! I would rather walk around like this for the rest of my life, bearing this huge bag of hurts and resentments on my back!”
Usually one of the kids or a teacher will comment, “Just let it go Vicky. Forgive them and move on!”
“Really?” I ask. “Is it THAT easy?”
So then I say, “OK. I am letting it go,” and stand up straight with a big sigh of relief and often the children spontaneously clap!
We then darken the room and get a huge bowl of water and place it in the middle of the floor- children all sitting around it. We show the children our special “Forgiveness stones”. (We buy them from a local hardware store.)
We play quiet music in the background while we invite the children to come one by one and place a few stones in the bowl of “love” to show they are forgiving someone. Some children take 10 stones, some just 1 or 2. We also tell them they can place stones in the bowl to represent forgiving ourselves and moving on.
It is interesting and powerful to watch how sacramentally the children go through this special forgiveness “ceremony.”
Forgiveness can be modelled by parents who decide to let go of old hurts and resentments and talk to children about this.
Forgiveness is powerful and transformative- both for the forgiver and the forgiven one! Let the past be in the past.