How do I correct a child who equates forgiving with revenge? The thought in this child, age 6, is that if he can get back at the other person, then they can move on together.
A key issue is to begin talking with the child about how all people are special, unique, and irreplaceable. All people have built-in worth. As Horton the elephant says in the Dr. Seuss classic, Horton Hears a Who, “A person’s a person no matter how small.” Try to get the child to see this and to see that the proper response to other people is kindness. Getting back at someone who behaved badly is not kindness and so this cannot possibly be forgiveness. It is important also to bring in the issue of justice. If a child is being bullied by another, for example, the one who might forgive needs to seek justice by telling an adult about the unfair situation.