Teaching kids forgiveness

Sociologist & Happiness Expert Christine Carter, PhD, shares advice for parents on the best methods for teaching your child to be forgiving
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Teaching kids forgiveness

I think it's really important for parents to both teach forgiveness directly and indirectly. The most important thing we can do to raise forgiving children is to be forgiving ourselves, to model that. When we are modeling that, we need to really talk about it with our kids, so they can see what's going on. We can say, "This situation was really difficult for me and I'm really hurt by it, but I'm going to forgive this person. This is how I am going to forgive it. I'm doing it as a gift to myself because I want to be happy. I want to move on in my life." A really foundational skill for forgiveness is, often times, empathy. We can raise really forgiving kids by practicing empathizing with others, just simply by giving them the benefit of the doubt. So, if you get cut off in traffic and you're instinct is to react angrily, you can say, "That guy almost killed me. That made me so angry, but imagine if he just found out that his child was in the hospital, and he is rushing to the hospital. I would feel really bad for being angry with them." Practice putting yourself in another person's shoes by giving them the benefit of the doubt. What it does is it teaches kids how to not take things so personally. That is a great life skill.

Sociologist & Happiness Expert Christine Carter, PhD, shares advice for parents on the best methods for teaching your child to be forgiving


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Christine Carter, PhD

Sociologist & Happiness Expert

A sociologist and happiness expert at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, Christine Carter, PhD is the author of Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents. Dr. Carter also writes an award-winning blog for Greater Good, which is syndicated on the Huffington Post and PsychologyToday.com. Carter has helped thousands of parents find more joy in their parenting while raising happy, successful and resilient kids. Known for her parenting and relationship advice, Carter draws on psychology, sociology, neuroscience, and uses her own chaotic and often hilarious real-world adventures to demonstrate the do’s and don’ts in action.

After receiving her B.A. from Dartmouth College, where she was a Senior Fellow, Dr. Carter worked in marketing management and school administration, going on to receive her PhD. in sociology from UC Berkeley. Dr. Carter has been quoted in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle and dozens of other publications. She has appeared on the “Oprah Winfrey Show,” the “TODAY” show, the “Rachael Ray Morning Show,” “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” “CBS Sunday Morning,” “ABC World News with Diane Sawyer” and NPR.

Carter has been a keynote speaker at hundreds of events and professional groups. In 2010, she received an award from the Council on Contemporary Families for her outstanding science-based reporting on family issues. In 2011 she won Red Tricycle’s award for the “Most Awesome Parent Education,” and so far in 2012 she has been nominated for a Bammy Award and for an award from the American Sociological Association for public sociology.

Dr. Carter teaches parenting classes online throughout the year to a global audience on raisinghappiness.com. She lives with her family in Berkeley, CA.

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