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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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