One Grudge Breeds Another
Special occasions call for memorable experiences. On this special holiday of goodwill and contemplation of a year gone by as another door opens, we long for a satisfied, full feeling of the heart. Adults who are connected to children have the fantastic opportunity to give them a very precious gift that will last a lifetime, lighting the pathway to full heartedness. Forgiving, apologizing and eliminating grudges are fertile seeds for that fulfillment.
”I’m going to get him back for not sharing with me” thought Bridget. She ignored Colton for days. Not understanding why she was ignoring him, Colton began making cutting remarks aimed at Bridget.
In this situation one grudge breeds another. Each person wants to get back at the other. “Hurt me and I’ll hurt you.” Both children are unhappy carrying chips on their shoulders. They are both being indirect rather than sharing feelings, asking questions or getting help from adults.
What neither realizes is that when a grudge is held, the person housing it is hurting him- or herself internally. A grudge takes on the form of a ball of tension, renting space somewhere in the body: stomach, chest, neck, or elsewhere. This tension feeds the mind with negativity in mental thoughts, which, in turn, feed more tension into the area of the body renting space to the grudge. Vicious cycle!
Besides harming oneself, the child also harms the relationship with the other person. Closeness in friendship will not thrive without the ability to forgive and apologize. These gifts bring healing to both parties.
Holding a grudge is analogous to being stuck and living in the past. That, in turn, prevents full spectrum living in the present. And the sad result is that the grudge becomes a negative building block for one’s future life experience. Holding grudges is the precursor to ongoing emotional quakes as past hurt is relived, over and over, like a “replay” button on a video recording. Apology and forgiveness open the door to personal freedom.
Tips: Helping kids let go of grudges
1. Awareness. Help child to locate tension area in the body from grudge held. Point out mind/body connection…”When I hold a grudge, it feels tight and tense in my stomach.” Purposely “think” grudge thoughts and talk about where you feel the body tension with your child. Drawing body outlines and coloring in the grudge tension is an empowering tool.
2. Choice. Help child to decide how she wants to experience her internal mind/body environment. Discuss how YOU feel when you hold a grudge by giving an example of doing that when you were a child or in the present time. Contrast that experience by also sharing how you feel when you forgive someone.
3. Control. Ask child what she really wants to experience with the other person. It is important to be able to feel forgiveness and not desire contact with someone under certain circumstances, based on safety, depth of harm or personal violation, etc.
4. Communication. Demonstrate how to communicate when in doubt of fear of others’ actions. For example, “I feel badly when you don’t share with me. Can you tell me why you aren’t sharing?” “I want to get along. Let’s get help from the teacher.”
5. Role model forgiveness in everyday life whenever possible, using the words, “I forgive you.” It is amazing how quickly children understand the importance of doing this once they live with it and experience being forgiven.
6. Create stories with children about forgiveness, keeping in mind what happens in the future to those who forgive and those who don’t. Try the same story with two different endings. Discuss which ending feels better.
7. Create contrast art by drawing, painting, clay modeling to show the meaning of holding grudges and how differently that looks from forgiveness inside their own bodies and in relationships.