Focus strengths: Courage, Flexibility and Honesty.
Star of the show: The Guard Dog
This week’s episode begins with musings around saying sorry. The kids being interviewed are asked if they find it easy or hard to apologise, whether it is even important to say sorry when you have done the wrong thing and if an apology on it’s own without actions is enough. As always there is a star of the show, a particular part of the brain needed to help the hosts navigate the problems brought up in the episode. And this week it is our beloved guard dog, aka the amygdala. In the guard dog’s own words the reason that it is called upon this week is because:
“Saying sorry is one of the things you humans often seem to get wrong. And that’s mainly because I need to be calm for you to do it well. You see, along with FIGHT, FREEZE or FLEE I also ask the question: Is this a threat, a challenge or an opportunity And when I am untrained, I view saying sorry as a threat.”
Why make an episode on apologising?
Conflict, stuffing up, taking responsibility, repairing and moving on are super tricky skills to learn and adopt. Not just for kids – for adults too. We wanted to create an episode on the podcast that spoke directly to the issue of how to make amends, practice self compassion and authentically own our mistakes. We did this because we all need good, reliable friends in our lives. Even just one supportive, loyal & trustworthy friend can help us feel resilient. But in order to maintain these friendships we need to know how to deal with conflict productively. We don’t want kids to feel lost in a shame storm when they stuff up. Instead we want them to know and do the next right thing.
The research behind this episode was based on the fantastic work of psychologist, Dr. Harriet Lerner. Lerner is the author of 12 books including The New York Times bestseller The Dance of Anger, and her latest book, Why Won’t You Apologize? Healing Big Betrayals and Everyday Hurts is where we gained a lot of valuable insights into how to apologise in a helpful way as well as what is required for healing and honoring hurts. Lerner also warns against over-apologising, which she feels can create distance, irritate your friends and make it harder for them when you offer a heartfelt apology that is important to give. That ‘heartfelt’ apology is the one we are spotlighting in this episode, because these ones are super tricky to deliver. Defensiveness usually kicks in. Hence the guard dog reminding us that we often treat these moments as a threat, rather than a challenge or opportunity.
As with all of the episodes in season 3, there are focus strengths with this week’s being: courage, flexibility and honesty. The hosts use these strengths to repair a betrayal between friends.
As you play the episode to your students, be sure to have their podcast journals printed. There are moments throughout the episode where the hosts ask listeners to pause and ask the questions within their journal. And when the episode is finished there are helpful follow on activities, such as how to talk it out, or are you ready to say sorry, that will further support students to turn what they have learned into a habit.
We want to see primary school kids nurturing their friendships and having the skills to navigate conflict productively. It is so often the case that students don’t know how to repair wrong doings and perhaps their confidence takes a whack which only leads to further issues. This episode really walks students through the best way to repair and move on and spoiler alert, involves more than an apology and an action plan. As the host says at the end:
“ Well, I also needed to forgive myself too. Otherwise it would have been hard to be friends. I had to really convince myself that what mattered most now was not the mistake I made but what I did next.”
Play this episode. Then play it again. Invite your parent group to listen as well. It is a truly important one. And as always, throughout each episode there is a song! The lyrics are on your subscription, why not build this into your music program? The song is catchy and the lyrics are too:
“The key is to keep sorry but free, with a genuine apology. Don’t ask for anything in return, like forgive me or now it’s your turn.”
Remember the lyrics are in your Grow Your Mind subscription as are key inquiry questions for each episode and a resource list of fantastic books to support each episode. And if you don’t have a subscription, play it on repeat until you learn it. It is the gift that keeps on giving.