Training Children To Overlook An Offense

A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. ~Proverbs 19:11

Sibling rivalry seems like an inevitable part of parenting. It’s natural that siblings are going to fight and squabble, and while that may be true, to what degree does it become too much?


This is beautiful training ground for teaching our children how to deal with conflict-resolution. Did you know many adults have not even had training in such a necessary skill? They struggle at work because they do not know how to deal with conflict. It’s important for our children to enter into the world knowing how handle an offense.

Why teach our children to overlook an offense?

A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult. ~Proverbs 12:16

  1. It teaches them how to handle conflict on their own. After several sessions of teaching your child to simply let go of a sibling taunting or nagging them, they will be able to handle these conflicts independently. Disclaimer: there may be instances when a parent needs to step in.
  2. It will result in less conflict as the issue won’t be taken to the next level. It will simply be ended. Typically, when a provoking sibling does not get the desired response of annoyance and frustration, they will stop doing said behavior.
  3. It teaches our children humility. This is an excellent opportunity to put into action what it means for our children to bring themselves to a lower level of priority. This is not to say they are not important people. Of course they are! Rather, it brings them to a place where they learn to give up their “rights” for the sake of peace and unity.
  4. It teaches our children forgiveness. Each time they overlook an offense, they are forgiving that person of the offense. They are letting it go, and not holding it against them. This is an excellent way to teach our children forgiveness in a most tangible way.

How can we teach our children to overlook an offense?

  •  By teaching them to not respond to trite misdeeds. An example would be rude facial expressions, such as sticking out ones tongue. Or displeasing noises only meant to annoy. The key here is not to respond at all.
  • Teach them to quietly and respectfully walk away. If the child is struggling to concentrate because of said behavior, teach them to quietly and without eye contact or word, just move locations.

My young boys {ages 6 and 4} are still learning what it means to overlook an offense. In part, they have the right idea. However, since they are still so concrete-minded, part of their idea of “overlooking an offense”, is to close their eyes and look “over” the person causing the offense.

I have to admit, I chuckle when I watch it, because they are being so literal about overlooking. But, I consistently correct the idea of overlooking so they use it in the right manner.

My nine year old on the other hand has taken well to this type of resolution. Having 4 younger siblings, it has been one of the best tools for her!

Keep in mind, this does take some discernment on the parents part. Try to listen and watch on the sidelines as your children engage with this tool to see that it is used properly and the offender doesn’t take advantage of it.

Praise your children when they put this into action because it is not always easy to do! Also consider the offender’s behavior and whether discipline is in order. This type of resolution is not meant to be taken advantage of by the offender.

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. ~Colossians 3:13

What is one way you have taught your children to handle conflict?

By Christin, Joyful Mothering

Image: scottchan /  

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  1. Sally Clarkson says

    this is such a great article, Christin, and so very true. So important for children so that they can grow up into healthy adults, marriage partners, workers, friends. It is one of the most quoted verses in our home. thanks for this.

  2. tascha piatt says

    thank you for the encouragement.
    We have been trying to teach our own children to overlook or ignore certain kinds offenses-mostly, if it’s just looking and talking [rudeness]-then walk away and don’t respond. if they can do that, Mommy [or Daddy] will deal with the offender! :) but if they respond in kind, they both must be dealt with.
    my 7 yo is starting to get it. my 4 & 3yo not so much. lol. the youngest is only 5 mo. he just cries if they are in his face too long :)

  3. says

    This was a hard thing for me to learn growing up as an only child.. Everything was all about me! lol… It has also been difficult for me to learn how to teach my children to overlook an offense as a mother who grew up as an only child now with 6 kids of her own. I don’t always understand the sqwables the children get into sometimes but I do understand the importance of teaching them patience , humility , and forgivness. this was a very helpful article for me to read in putting it all in a more understanding perspective. Thanks so much for sharing! :)

  4. says

    Your post was so timely! I was preparing to teach kids in our Awana club tomorrow and wanted to use Proverbs 19:11 as the key verse but needed additional ideas for the lesson. Your article has been helpful in putting this verse into application for the elementary girls I’ll be talking to.

  5. says

    This is great advice. I tend to get frustrated at the picking back and forth and just tell them to “ignore it!” but not really explain why or how or that this is an issue of forgiveness. This is such a key part of the lesson though! Thanks for sharing.

    I AM trying to teach my children to “walk away” from anything that is bothering them or feel inappropriate to give them a defense when they go out in the world. If you don’t like something in a movie–you DON’T have to watch it, walk away. If you don’t like how someone is treating you or talking–you DON’T have to keep dealing with it, walk away.

  6. guest says

    This is soooo timely even as an adult! My sister and I got in a fight on Sunday. (she’s a nonbeliever) and I was staying at her house over the weekend. And i left upset. I won’t go into details, as it’s not really important. I really had no idea how to even handle this. It’s been going on for so many years. And it gets harder and harder to just overlook the issues we seem to have. She’s 6 yrs older than I am, and we use to get along as children, but grew apart as we became adults. We didn’t really have chances growing up to have sibling rivalry. By the time I was 6-8 she was entering her teens and wasn’t around as much. Now my brother on the other hand, is 6 yrs younger than me. (I’m the typical middle child) Now there was some serious sibling rivalry, but I was always told to suck it up,he’s younger than me etc. Yah, what a way to solve that issue.

    Anyways, thanks for the tips!

  7. says

    Great tips in the article, but what I really love is the photo! What a simple concept to keep the focus on the problem rather than whose rights are being violated (ugh!). We’ve tried, w/out so much luck, to teach the overlooking concept to our kids. We are thankful that at least 2 of 3 seem to get it most of the time. About that other one…..

  8. says

    This is definitely something I’ve been missing (or rather forgetting at least) to teach and enforce with my children, but you can bet I will be including this in our discussions tomorrow. I think this could really help immensely with the piddly conflicts I’ve been having between the kids lately. Thank you!

  9. Srm4christ says

    I have definitely taught this principle to our little ones here and there. Mostly I emphasize that they *talk* to the offender FIRST- then they may come and tell me what is happening, if it can’t be resolved between the two of them. I hear both sides and we talk about the right and/or wrong choices made, and what can be done better next time.
    This was a timely post, in that I could probably start emphasizing this principle more, now that my oldest (twins) are going on 6 y/o. It would be SO helpful!

  10. Ann R says

    Came across this post via Pinterest – so glad it’s not just for crafts!! So timely for me with my 7 and 9 y.o. kiddos. They have always got along great until about 6 months ago and now there is frequent bickering. I’ve been working with them on Pr 26:20 – “For lack of wood the fire goes out…” But for some reason they just haven’t made the connection. However, I love the Pr 19:11 phrase “his glory”. My 9 y.o connected with that right away. I believe that he wants to do right. Lord, help me to reach them with Your truth!


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