Bullying, whether physical, verbal, emotional, or cyber, is detrimental to our children’s mental health. The weight of resentment can carry on for years and affects their day-to-day lives. It can be difficult for our children to understand the importance of forgiving their bullies. After all, they are the ones who did us wrong! How could you let that go?
Teaching our children how to let go, move on, and make peace for themselves will improve their mental health, bring them peace, and help them navigate future relationships, including the ones with themselves.
Here are four principles to help your children forgive after they have experienced bullying:
1. Demonstrate forgiveness
We are mirrors for our children. When we practice everyday forgiveness, we will not only be examples, but also gain the wisdom to teach our children how to live and let go.
2. Help them to talk about how they feel
Addressing their emotions around their bully and what happened helps to release the anger and prevent deeper wounds. Speak to them about their feelings, or encourage them to write it down.
3. Suppose the shoe was on the other foot
Those who bully must have a deeper reason why. Are they unhappy with something in themselves? Are they being influenced by someone bigger than them? Shifting perspectives and understanding the reasons behind the bully’s actions can help our children to have compassion and extend grace.
4. It’s not forgiving to forget. It’s forgiving to move on
Forgiveness does not (always) mean reconciliation or letting the person back into your life. Forgiveness equals peace and happiness. Remind them that forgiveness means a release of bitterness, rage, and sadness. Regardless of their bully’s response, if there is one, the peace comes within.
By Adena Patrice
If you or someone you know are struggling with suicidal thoughts or experiencing a mental health crisis, dial the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or go to SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.