Forgiveness is important to learn early in life because holding grudges can have a significant physical and emotional impact on children and adults. Forgiveness doesn't necessarily mean forgetting what happened to you or condoning inappropriate behavior. It means that you choose to forgive the person who hurt or wronged you in some way. Interactive youth activities are an effective method to teach young people how to forgive each other.
Creative Activities to Promote Forgiveness
Use artistic activities to teach lessons on forgiveness. Have the children draw or paint the emotion of anger or hurt. Next, have the children paint or draw the feeling of forgiving someone and compare the differences. Alternatively, children can create a collage of the feeling of forgiveness. Read a paragraph about a child who offends another child in some way. Ask the children to write two endings to the story. One ending should emphasize forgiveness and the other should focus on revenge. Discuss the consequences of the two reactions.
Provide a 10-inch balloon for each child. Have them write down the names of everyone they can think of who has ever hurt them and who they still feel anger toward. Ask the children to exhale into the balloon for every person on their list. Tell them to expel their anger into the balloon with their breath. Ask the children to pinch off the opening of the balloon after each exhaled breath. Make a comparison of what happens to them if they don't let go of their anger by forgiving the person who hurt them. Explain that the anger continues to build up inside them and cannot be released until they forgive.
Put heavy objects such as rocks or large books into a sack after labeling each item with words such as hurt, resentment, hate, revenge, anger and bitterness. Ask two children who are at odds with each other to take turns carrying around the heavy sack. Tell the children that carrying around feelings such as anger and unforgiveness in their hearts is an even heavier load to bear than carrying the heavy sack. Explain that if they choose to forgive the person who hurt them or offended them in some way, then all the bad feelings disappear and they will be free of the burden of carrying them around. Tell them they are the ones who are hurt the most when they choose not to forgive.
Movie Clip Discussion on Forgiveness
Run a movie clip of a film with a point on forgiveness. "Saving God" is a movie about an ex-con who is released after spending 15 years in prison. He gets into a fight with his friend, and instead of forgiving him, they get into a brawl with a knife, and his best friend is killed. Discuss what the main character could have done differently and what the result would have been if he had forgiven his friend instead.
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