A study by the North Carolina State University that showing a child another person’s perspective can help teach them forgiveness. Moreover, instructing them on giving sincere apologies makes it easier to receive forgiveness.
According to the lead study author and associate professor of psychology at North Carolina State University, Kelly Lynn Mulvey, forgiveness helps restore relationships and avoid conflicts in the future. The researchers conducted the study to determine what teaches children to forgive others.
How researchers conducted the study
They gathered 185 children aged 5-14 for the study. They interviewed the children to evaluate their theory of mind skills. Theory of mind is a person’s ability to comprehend others’ desires, intentions, and beliefs even when they feel differently.
The researchers placed the children in different groups. They then gave the children different scenarios that involved children within or out of the group. After leading them through a scenario, they would ask the children to forgive a group that excluded them from an activity.
The researchers found that children who had apologized before were more likely to forgive. They also found that the children were more willing to forgive those in their groups. Furthermore, the children most likely to forgive had a high theory of mind score.
Mulvey explains that the children had a strong ability to forgive. They appeared willing to mend relationships and were mostly willing to do it.
Children have to learn to make genuine apologies
The researchers stated that parents should teach their children about making meaningful apologies. The reason is that many children can tell sincere from insincere apologies. In addition, they are not likely to forgive if an apology is insincere. A sincere apology needs to relay an understanding of one’s mistake.
Parents should also teach kids to see another person’s perspective, whether they are in or out of their group.
Mulvey adds that parents should teach their children the theory of mind skills. They could achieve this by making their children explain how their actions might make other’s feel. If they learn to do this as children, they will grow into adults that can navigate the world’s complexity.