3-Year-Old Lessons In Forgiveness



Mary Katherine Backstrom, a mom, and a blogger who usually shares moments from her life with her two children on her page on Facebook. But one particular heart-melting conversation with her 3-year-old daughter about forgiveness was actually astonishing and mind-blowing.

It seems that even us as adults are still struggling with this concept of forgiveness, we are still having a hard time getting it, regardless of all the books which have been written in this matter. The preschooler was successful at giving a meaning to what forgiveness really means in a handful of innocent words which tells us why we should forgive those who have wronged us.



Mary shared the story on Facebook to turn into a viral post afterward:

“My daughter and I were trying to go to sleep, trying to persuade her to knock-out in her bedtime hour. Finally, about ten minutes later, I put her to bed and through clenched teeth said ‘I love you, Holland, but not another word tonight. You are going to sleep now. I’m done fussing over stuffed animals.’


I stopped half-way through the door, so frustrated to the extent that I was literally biting my tongue.

‘What is it, Holland?’

‘I DO have one more thing to say.’

Of course, she did. She was standing on the bed with her hands on her hips, too. She was wiping her tears and snot with her arm away from her face for she was crying.

‘Mommy’, my 3-year-old girl called me, with a look of disappointment with her tiny voice….


Then she laid down and cried and honest to goodness, for a hot minute, I didn’t know what to do.

The way my girl said ‘I forgive you’, made it sound like cuss words.

I walked to the bedside and leaned down to her.

‘Baby girl, do you know what forgiveness means?’

I could still hear her sniffling, with her face shoved deep into her tiny mermaid pillow.

‘Yes,’ she muttered.

I really had to hear this.

‘It means you were wrong, and I’m tired of being mad, and now I’m going to sleep and my heart won’t have a tummy ache.’


Well, there you have it.

I was taught a lesson in forgiveness tonight, by my own 3-year-old girl. It felt like a punch. Which made me jump in that bed and started loving her.

Because frankly, I had felt a bit of a tummy ache deep in my heart.

And when you go to bed in anger, your heart will have a tummy ache. I was reminded by my toddler to not do so.

Although I am 32 years older than her, I have to give her this one:

She’s absolutely not wrong.”












the 3-year-old preschooler really isn’t wrong, according to experts.

And according to UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center:

” forgiveness is generally defined as a conscious according to psychologists, to release feelings of resentment or vengeance deliberately towards those who wronged you or harmed you, regarding the fact whether they deserve your forgiveness or no.

But defining and understanding what forgiveness is not, is just as important as defining what forgiveness is. And as experts who study or teach forgiveness made it clear, when you forgive you don’t deny that the offense against you was not serious or you just gloss over it. For it is just to help repair a damaged relationship and does not mean forgetting, condoning or excusing offenses. And it doesn’t obligate you to reconcile with the person who harmed you or release them from legal accountability.


While some experts are still debating whether true forgiveness requires some positive feelings or sentiments towards the offender, others agree that by forgiving you let go of deeply held negative feelings and that helps you to empower and the recognize the pain you suffered, without letting it determine who you are as a person, so with that said, after all by forgiveness brings you a peace of mind and frees you from excessive anger.



Basically, 3-year-old Holland expressed the same thing but using only 25 kid-friendly words.

The post ended up being shared all over Facebook, 92.000 times to be exact, and Backstrom told [ your website’s name] that she was surprised and happy from the reaction her post got which made it go viral.

“It is pleasant and It makes me really happy when heartwarming stories go viral,” she said, “because everyone gets to realize and reflect upon the shared slice of humanity, we all have in common. And in this case, the profound words of innocence and wisdom can come out from the mouth of children.”

“I think that the most profound truth can come out from our children’s mouths,” she added, “As adults, we seem to overcomplicate things. instead, what we should do is approach things similar to the way our toddlers do, they address complex sentiments and emotions in the simplest ways, hug it out, forgive, and then move on. We should really learn a thing or two from our toddlers, it would absolutely save us a few of those ‘heart tummy aches.'”


Indeed, it would. Thank you, Holland for your sweet reminder.