The importance of forgiveness is a vital lesson for every Christian child; it paves the way for a healthy relationship with God and other people, and helps to keep the soul uplifted. When you're introducing the lesson to your preschooler, try to see the world from his perspective and utilize activities that help make forgiveness relevant to him. Before long, he'll show off just how much he's learned when he forgives his little sister for running off with his favorite toy. (Or maybe that much forgiveness might take a little bit of work.)
The Heavy Box
When you think of a soul, it brings to mind images of light and uplifting thoughts. Over time, misdeeds and sins weigh down the soul and make it heavy. You can teach your youngster about the importance of forgiveness by demonstrating the heavy soul and how much easier it is to carry around when it forgives and is forgiven. Start with an empty shoe box and get your kiddo to hold the box. Ask her how it feels: "Is it light or heavy?" and "Would it be hard to carry this empty box around?" Of course it would be easy. Next, add two or three rocks to the box and hand it over to your youngster again. Ask the same questions. This time, there's a little bit of weight in the box, but not enough to make it an impossible task. Continue on until the box is just too much to carry easily. Now you can explain the similarities between a heavy soul and the heavy box. Forgiveness is important because it keeps the soul uplifted and prevents it from being weighted down.
You can use the story of Joseph to help teach your youngster about forgiveness. Start off the activity by reading a child-friendly version of the story and talk about how Joseph demonstrated forgiveness when he forgave his brothers for their sins. When you're finished, reinforce the story with an art activity. Cut out a coat shape from a sturdy piece of poster board and lay it on the table. Let your kiddo take over and decorate the coat to look like Joseph's coat with a multitude of colors. As he works, talk about times he has forgiven others and share some stories about times you have forgiven, too. When the coat is complete, hang it on his wall or on the fridge to show off his artwork and provide a constant reminder of the lesson.
Forgiveness isn't something that can be taken; you may not be able to see it or touch it, but it's a gift that you can give to someone and a wonderful gift to receive, too. Help your kiddo turn an ordinary gift box into the prettiest gift box she's ever seen. Wrap the lid and box separately in decorative wrapping paper, and then pull out the craft supplies and let your little artist take over. She can adorn the box with bows, ribbons, glitter and anything else she can find. When the gift box is complete, help her think of something that has upset her recently and help her forgive. Write the words "I forgive" and then the scenario on a piece of paper and place it in the gift box. She can give the box to someone or place it in a special area in the home. Come back to the activity every once in a while and add more forgiveness notes to the box.
Now that she's had an opportunity to learn about forgiveness with you, let her apply the lesson. Kids generally like make-believe and pretend play, so it probably won't be hard to get your youngster to learn a little bit about forgiveness through role playing. Have her think about a time when someone did something that upset her. Did her younger brother break a toy? Did her table-mate at preschool draw on her artwork? Help her act out the scenario with you and talk about how God would want her to react. Talk about all the times God has forgiven her for misdeeds -- how he wipes the slate clean, never to think about those things again.