Ep. 62 – All About Forgiveness

How to forgive friends who have hurt us.

Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic
Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic
Ep. 62 – All About Forgiveness


Think About It Questions

  • Think of a time when you’ve forgiven someone for doing something that hurt or upset you. What happened? Why did you decide to forgive them?
  • Dr. Friendtastic said, “Holding onto bitterness and resentment hurts us more than anyone else.” What does that mean?
  • How is forgiving someone different than letting someone be mean to you? (Hint: It has to do with how you think about them and what you say to them.)
  • One of the forgiveness guidelines Dr. Friendtastic mentioned is: If it happened more than a month ago, definitely let it go! Do you agree with that guideline? Why or why not?
  • Why is it sometimes easier to forgive other people than to forgive ourselves?


Hi, there! I’m Dr. Eileen Kennedy-Moore, also known as Dr. Friendtastic. I’m an author and clinical psychologist based in Princeton, NJ.

First I want to say a big thank you to Common Sense Media for giving the Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic podcast an enthusiastic 5-star rating! If you’re a parent listening, please consider going to CommonSenseMedia.org and submitting a parent review of this podcast.

I’ll get back to answering kids’ questions about friendship next week, but today, I want to talk about a very important but often difficult topic in friendship: Forgiveness.

I worked with a kid once, who wanted to build closer friendships. We were talking about who he could invite for a playdate, and his mom suggested, “Why don’t you play with the kid down the road?”

He responded, “Nuh-uh! ‘Cause two years ago, in travel basketball, he never passed the ball!”

Do you think the other kid remembered that? I doubt it. But this kid was holding onto bitterness about it.

Forgiveness is a deliberate decision to let go of feelings of resentment or wanting to get even with someone who has hurt or wronged you in some way, whether or not they deserve your forgiveness.

Oof! That’s so hard!

When someone has hurt us, especially if it’s someone we’re close to, the normal human instinct is to go over and over that hurt in our mind. We build up resentment as we mentally rehearse how terrible it was and how wrong they were to do that. We might want everyone to know what a bad person they are and what an awful thing they did! We might even spend time imagining how we could get back at them…maybe do the same thing to them–or worse–so they know how it feels!

At the same time, if we stop and think, we know that being horrible to someone will never convince them to be kind to us, and it could make things much, much worse, if they decide to be horrible back.

Holding onto bitterness and resentment hurts us more than anyone else. It can also pull us into being someone we don’t want to be–someone who would choose to be unkind.

Now, maybe you’re thinking, “But wait! I don’t want to be a push over! How can I let people get away with doing bad things to me?!”

Forgiveness is not about being a doormat that anyone can step on. You might need to say to a friend, “I don’t like it when you do that. Could you please do this instead, from now on, because…” Or you might need to set up the situation so the bad thing is less likely to happen.

Forgiveness is an inside job. It’s about viewing the situation with a kind and generous heart. You don’t have to make a big announcement about it. Just try to find your way to understanding and acceptance.

You don’t have to think whatever happened was OK, but we can’t change the past. We need to find a way to move forward when we hit one of those unavoidable friendship rough spots, so we’re not weighed down by bitterness and resentment. Do it for your sake, if not for theirs.

It might help to think about some forgiveness guidelines from my book Growing Friendships:

  • If it only happened once, and it probably won’t happen again, let it go.
  • If your friend didn’t do it on purpose, let it go.
  • If it wasn’t that bad, let it go.
  • If your friend is really sorry, let it go.
  • If it was just a mistake, and the friend is usually kind, let it go.
  • If it happened more than a month ago, definitely let it go!

It might also help to remember that none of us is perfect. Your friends are going to make mistakes, and so are you. You’d probably like to be forgiven for the times you’ve said or done something that hurt someone, so do the same for others.

Part of being a good friend is letting go of grudges and being willing to forgive and move on.

This has been Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic. If you have a question about making and keeping friends that you’d like me to answer, go to DrFriendtastic.com, and click on the podcast tab to see how to submit your question.

You can learn even more about friendship through my funny and practical books for kids: Growing Friendships: A Kids’ Guide to Making and Keeping Friends and Growing Feelings: A Kids’ Guide to Dealing with Emotions About Friends and Other Kids. They’re available through your library or wherever you buy books.

OR find them on your favorite podcast platform!