Exploring the Nature, Attributes and Consequences of Forgiveness in Children: A Qualitative Study

Geeta Ahirwar, Gyanesh Kumar Tiwari, Pramod Kumar Rai


Researchers have unanimously suggested forgiveness to be closely linked with a host of positive life outcomes for people across all developmental periods. The scientific endeavours have largely been confined to the study of adults’ forgiveness mostly employing quantitative methods and, thus, have oversighted the study of children’s forgiveness despite its similar and noticeable relevance to their life outcomes. To bridge this gap, this study aims to explore the nature, attributes and perceived consequences of forgiveness for children. The study was carried out on full-time mothers of 4 male (5-10 years) and 4 female (4.50-9.50 years) children of the same local community. The mothers were interviewed about the nature of perceived wrongdoings, emotional, social and cognitive concomitants of forgiveness of their children. The contents of the interviews were audio-taped and transcribed verbatim followed by their analysis by the Thematic Analysis Method. The findings showed that the children’s transgression related to their immediate and tangible realities of life. The significant others played a facilitative role in their learning phase of forgiveness. The children easily accepted their wrongdoings. Some personality attributes regulated the understanding of their wrongdoings. Moreover, children’s forgiveness was more explicit and, thus, easy to understand spontaneously. The understanding and acceptance of wrongdoings of the children were generally guided by their preferences, relationships, moods and concreteness. In essence, the children’s forgiveness evinced close links with their social, emotional and interpersonal developments. The findings have been discussed considering the current empirical findings pertaining to the children’s forgiveness and some cultural concerns. The implications and directions for future research have been discussed along with some limitations.


forgiveness; children; life outcomes; performance; Thematic Analysis method

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