Emotions Can Be Signals, Grade 3 Lesson 1
In this lesson we explore how bullying can affect us all, even when it’s not happening directly to us we might feel confused, scared, and uncomfortable.
We read a book called Beautifully Me about a young girl who is confused about the ways people are talking about bodies- specifically large, or fat bodies.
We talk about how feelings and emotions can be signals to us, sometimes they’re letting us know something in our world doesn't make sense and we might need help figuring it out. The lesson ends by thinking of the people/adults at home and school that they can go to for help.
Emotions Can Be Signals -- Grade 3, Lesson 1
3rd-Grade Lesson 1: Emotions Can Be Signals
Emotions Can Be Signals
In this lesson we read a book called Beautifully Me about a young girl who is confused about the ways people are talking about bodies- specifically large, or fat bodies.
We explore how bullying can affect us all, even when it’s not happening directly to us we might feel confused, scared, and uncomfortable.
We talk about how feelings and emotions can be signals to us, sometimes they’re letting us know something in our world doesn't make sense and we might need help figuring it out. The lesson ends by thinking of the people/adults at home and school that they can go to for help.
Jackson County Sexual Assault Response Team
- Define/Review Personal Space and Consent
- Identify ways people behave when they’re uncomfortable with something.
- Discuss the difference between teasing and bullying
- Recognize that emotions can be signals telling us something doesn’t make sense and we need help figuring it out.
- Discuss how finding our places of power can help us talk about and problem solve the things that are bothering us.
Aligned Standards, Performance Indicators, and Essential Questions
INSTRUCTIONS FOR THIS SECTION - Please identify the Oregon Health Education standards that align with your lesson and define what students should know and be able to do within a content area at specific stages in their education. You can choose from these standards listed here or additional standards as applicable.
☐ Oregon Health Standards Color Coded by Topic Category - Chart Version
☐ Oregon Health, Physical, & Sexuality Education Topic Categories and Essential Questions
☐ National Sexuality Education Standards (Second Edition)
Standard 1: Students will comprehend concepts related to health promotion and disease prevention to enhance health.
Standard 2: Students will analyze the influence of family, peers, culture, media, technology, and other factors on health behaviors.
Standard 4: Students will demonstrate the ability to use interpersonal communication skills to enhance health and avoid or reduce health risks.
Performance Indicators Covered
HE. 1.3.17 Explain why bullying and teasing are inappropriate behaviors.
HE. 1.3.19 Define consent as it relates to personal boundaries.
HE. 2.3.5 Recognize how peers and family can influence ideas about body image.
HE. 4.3.1 Recognize effective verbal and nonverbal communication skills to enhance health.
HE. 4.3.2 Recognize when to ask for assistance to enhance personal health.
HE. 4.3.6 Identify ways to communicate your thoughts and feelings while maintaining healthy relationships.
HE. 4.3.7 Identify effective ways to communicate personal boundaries and show respect for the boundaries of others.
Essential Questions Covered
How do friends and family influence how we feel about ourselves and our bodies?
What can we do when we hear someone say something that makes us feel confused, scared, or sad?
How can we contribute to and create a safe and respectful environment for people of all shapes, sizes, and identities?
Culturally Responsive Practices
We use words like, ‘grown-ups’, ‘trusted adults’, or ‘families’ instead of ‘parents’ because not all children are being raised by parents. Every family is different so we need to reflect that in these conversations. We also make a point of having the students think about grown ups at home and at school that they can turn to for help. Some children might not have an adult at home they feel safe with so it’s good to list places other than home where helpful adults can be found. Ask the students to share the names of adults at the school they think are helpful, that might give other students ideas about who they can turn to for help.
Part of writing our lessons was reaching out and getting input from our community. We had an online survey that went out to folks who have children that attend school in the districts we serve. We also held focus groups for families of Black and African- American children, as well as for families of Laino/a/x and Mexican-American students in Jackson County.
Our survey focused on peoples’ comfort levels with the subject matter. We found that most people who have children in school were happy to hear us talk about these things. We also found that parents and guardians really want to be involved in these conversations, they want to know when they’re happening and how they can support the conversations at home.
In the focus groups we asked participants to tell us what they would like teachers to know about their children’s experiences in school when it comes to bullying and harassment, and what kinds of conversations they’re having at home around these things. The following considerations come from the focus group conversations.
There will be students in class that have been teased and bullied about the things listed in the lesson. It’s important to know that this lesson may have an impact on reports of bullying. It’s possible students will feel empowered to speak out and will need to be supported in doing so. You’ll want to have a plan in place for helping students navigate this while feeling heard and supported.
A lot of families from historically marginalized communities know their child is likely to be targeted and not listened to when asking for help, so may have already had conversations in their homes about how to handle bullying. If they ask for help and don’t get help they may end up looking like the aggressor. It’s important to understand that certain groups and communities are targeted more than others and to listen when they ask for help.
You will want to alert the school or district counselor that you’ll be doing this lesson so they can be prepared to potentially see an uptick in reports. This lesson ends with a brainstorming session on what a ‘loving and understanding’ school would look and feel like, ending with some sort of conversation around how the students can make a difference will also be helpful.
This lesson also covers the topic of body size and explores how cultural expectations can impact how students perceive their own bodies and those of others.We also want to recognize that words and/or nicknames mean different things to different communities, for some communities being large or ‘fat’ is considered a standard of health and beauty. They use words like ‘chubby’ in endearing ways. European beauty standards dictate an ideal of thinness and a culture of dieting.. It’s important to acknowledge that we all come in different shapes and sizes - and that’s natural and ok.
It would be helpful to engage parents and guardians before you have these conversations. Being able to hear from the families in your class can help have more inclusive conversations.
Asking parents and guardians about the experiences their children have with bullying and what kinds of conversations happen at home around these issues, can be helpful in understanding the cultural differences that are present in your classroom or school. If holding an in-person conversation isn’t possible, a short questionnaire can be helpful. Here is a copy of the questions we asked, feel free to use this as inspiration.
The focus groups we held allowed us to learn more about the different ways words and language are interpreted in English and Spanish. What might sound like an insult or ‘bad’ word in one language, might not carry the same meaning in another. Knowing this we were able to craft our lessons in a way that pointed out the need to check in and ask questions about things when we don’t understand. What is most important is how the children feel while learning these very important social skills. It will be on the teacher, with the help and partnership of the families, to be the example on how to communicate and advocate for all their student’s needs.
When it comes to our bodies, the most important thing is how the person feels about their body. We want to point out that talking about body size and/or appearance as though it’s ‘bad’ or ‘undesirable’ can have negative consequences on people’s health and wellbeing.
This lesson has a lot of questions for discussion, we’ve added possible responses to the questions asked but it’s important to let students share their thoughts and ideas about what we’re asking before giving the responses listed.
Information for Educators
The book we read in this lesson has a non-binary character in it so there’s an opportunity to talk about gender and pronouns.
Explaining Nonbinary: How to Talk to Kids About Gender | Parents is a helpful article for teachers and parents.
How to Talk to School Staff and Parents About Gender Identity | USC Rossier is a helpful article for teachers and school staff on the importance of talking about gender and how to do so.
What it's like to be non-binary is a short video produced in Canada with three folks who identify as Non-binary for some prespective.
How to Talk to Kids About Body Image | Parents is a helpful article on how to talk to kids about bodies in a non-shaming way.
Nabela Noor | Beautifully Me is an interview with the author of the book, she talks about the book being inspired by situations from her childhood around body image and acceptance.
When Teasing Becomes Bullying | Scholastic | Parents is a helpful article for parents and teachers to distinguish between teasing and bullying.
School suspensions are an adult behavior | Rosemarie Allen | TEDxMileHigh reflects concerns that were brought up in our focus groups about children in historically marginalized communities being seen as aggressors or troublemakers more often than their white counterparts.
Pronouns: A Guide from GLSEN This is another great website resource for educators to learn more about how to support LGBTQIA+ students. GLSEN offers a lot of resources and support to educators.
What Is Bullying | StopBullying.gov Information on bullying, it’s good to know the basics and what to watch out for.
You will need this book
This is a video of the book being read in case teachers would like to preview the story and pronunciations of words or need to use it for online lessons.
PBS KIDS Talk About | FEELINGS & EMOTIONS! | PBS KIDS This video can be shared with families.
WHAT TO INCLUDE IN “BEFORE THE LESSON”: Prior assessments; Prior or pre-learning; Connections to core subjects; Connections to students’ cultural and personal funds of knowledge; Trauma informed climate setting; Group agreements, etc.
There is a character in the story with they/them pronouns who gets bullied, it’s an opportunity to talk about the different ways people show up in their bodies. It’s helpful for students to have a basic understanding of gender and pronouns before you present this lesson.
It’s also good to reflect on the school or classroom guidelines around being respectful and kind to our classmates. You might want to have students think about the things that help them feel comfortable talking about potentially sensitive topics.
Group Agreements Might Look Like
- Listen with an open mind.
- One person talking at a time.
- What is said in the conversation, stays in the conversation. Some students might talk about being bullied so you’ll want to be sure their stories are safe and respected.
- Be respectful - ask students to discuss what that means.
Consent- Consent is permission. It’s when someone says, yes.
Teasing- Making fun of someone, usually meant in a playful way.
Bullying- Teasing can become bullying when the person being teased asks for it to stop and it doesn’t. Bullying is a set of behaviors meant to hurt or embarrass another person.
Today we’re going to have a conversation about personal space and the space we share with others.
We’ll talk about teasing and bullying and how the words we use can sometimes hurt people even if we don’t mean for them to. I’m going to read a story about a person who is confused about what people are saying.
We’ll also talk about how feelings and emotions can be signals to us, sometimes they’re letting us know something in our world doesn't make sense and we might need help figuring it out.
And we’ll end by thinking of ways we can use our voice and power to make the world more loving and understanding for everyone.
But before we get started let's talk about personal space.
What is personal space?
- The area of space that closely surrounds our body.
- The amount of space we each need to feel comfortable.
- Everyone has different ideas about what is comfortable when it comes to personal space.
- Everyone has a right to be in charge of what happens to their bodies and personal space.
If I want to get close to another person, what do I need to do?
- Ask or check in with them first.
Who can tell me what consent is?
- Consent is permission. It’s when someone says yes!
If I ask my friend for a hug and they hesitate (model a hesitant yes) um.... Yeah... sure... I guess. Is that consent?
- Maybe it is “really” consent – because technically “sure I guess” is agreement…it's just that you can tell they don’t mean it.
How is that person acting that’s making it seem like this might actually be No?
- Their tone of voice sounds sad.
- They’re turning their body away.
- Their words aren’t matching their body language and tone of voice.
Why would someone answer that way instead of just saying No?
- Sometimes they might be worried they’ll hurt their friend’s feelings.
- They worry that the other person is going to be mad at them.
- They might want a hug but are too shy to say ‘yes’.
How can I respond if my friend answers like that after I’ve asked them for a hug, or to play with me?
- Say, “Are you sure? You don’t look like you want to.”
- Not hug them.
- Say, “It’s ok, you don’t have to.”
What about silence? If my friend doesn’t answer at all, should I hug them?
- No. Sometimes people are nervous to say No, so they’ll hesitate, try and change the subject, or just not say anything at all.
- Those are just some of the ways ‘No’ might look. It’s important to ask and check in so you know for sure you’re not making someone do something they don’t want to.
What does it look like when someone doesn’t like what another person is doing? How might they respond? (You can ask students to show you what it looks like.)
- Pull away, walk away
- Make themselves small
- Look down/away
- Get real quiet
Has anyone ever gotten frustrated or mad when someone told them no or didn’t want to play with them? Raise your hand with them, admit this is natural. You might even ask them to brainstorm some of the feelings that come up for them when someone says ‘no’ to them or something doesn’t work out the way they want. Use the feelings they come up with for the following discussion. Also if you have a way of talking about emotions and how to manage them in your class, use this opportunity to reiterate those classroom guidelines around feelings and how to manage them.
It's ok to be disappointed when someone doesn’t want to do something you want them to do. But it’s important to know they don’t have to change their ‘no’ to a ‘yes’ to make you feel better. Just like you don’t have to change a no to a yes for anyone else either. It’s natural for people to be disappointed, sad, or even mad that someone doesn’t want to do something they want them to do. What’s important is the choice you make about what to do with those feelings. Hurting or threatening to hurt another person because you’re having big feelings and want them to do what you want, is not ok. It is not ok to try to pressure someone to do something they don’t want to do.
What can I do, if I ask my friend to play and they say ‘no’ and I feel so mad or sad that I want to yell at them? What can I do with those feelings instead?
You can also ask What do you do to help yourself calm down when you have big mad, sad, or disappointed feelings?
- Take a breath: 5 finger breathing.
- Count to 5 or 10
- Go somewhere and take a break
- Talk to a friend or an adult, being careful not to talk about the person in anger, but talk to someone with the intention of calming down so you can think clearly.
What does it look like to respect someone when they say or show No? (These can be acted out if time allows- have students practice hearing and responding to No.)
- “Ok, maybe another time.”
- “That’s ok, you don’t have to.”
- “Ok” and go find another friend to play with, etc.
Do you think it’s possible to affect someone’s personal space even if you’re not close to them or talking directly to them? What would that look like?
- Someone can glare at another person from across the room.
- People can use words that are hurtful.
What about teasing? What does it sound like?
- Name calling.
- Something friends do.
- Making fun of another person, etc.
When someone is teasing another person, they’re usually using words to do so. Sometimes the words they’re choosing aren’t really ‘bad’ words, in fact some of the words are actually real people or things. For example has anyone ever heard a boy tease another boy by saying they throw, or run ‘like a girl’? Is being a girl a ‘bad’ thing? But sometimes that gets used for teasing or bullying, which might be confusing for someone who identifies as a girl. To them, being a girl isn’t a bad thing. It’s important to think about the words we use and how we use them.
How can we tell if teasing, or the way someone is using certain words, is ok or not?
- How it makes us feel.
- The person’s tone of voice.
- Everyone should be laughing and the teasing stops when the person being teased asks for it to.
It’s up to the person who’s being teased to decide how they feel about it. Even if the person who says something didn’t mean it, if they said something hurtful, they need to be sure not to do it again. If they don’t stop when asked and continue to tease, or if the person being teased isn’t laughing along, then that becomes bullying.
Bullying is a set of behaviors meant to hurt or embarrass another person.
What can I do if I said something that I thought was joking but my friend is hurt by my words?
- Say sorry and don’t do it again.
What are some reasons people are teased or bullied?
- Body shape or size, color of a person’s skin, the clothes they wear, how they look, and things they like/don’t like.
What might bullying behaviors look like? What are some ways people try to hurt or embarrass another person?
- Name calling, saying mean things. That's verbal bullying, when people use their words to hurt or embarrass.
- Hitting, punching, pushing. That’s physical bullying, when people use their hands and fists to hurt, or they harm another person’s belongs
Sometimes when people think they’re kidding around, or just saying whatever comes to their minds, they may not realize how the words they're using and the tone of their voice might make some people feel. Sometimes the words one person thinks aren’t harmful might be hurtful to another person. Checking in and asking, “what did you mean by that?” can be helpful in figuring out what they meant.
What matters is how the person hearing the word feels about it, especially if it's being directed at them, like a nickname or something. (I usually take a moment here to ask if any of the students have ever had a nickname they really didn’t like, and then they were ok with it as a way to generate some empathetic understanding of what it feels like to be called something you don’t want to be called.) It’s important to make sure someone is ok with a name you want to call them, you need to make sure you have consent. And other people need your consent too.
Today we’re going to read a story about a person who has some confusing feelings about something she hears other people saying, not directly to her, but it’s something that is said in some spaces she shares in her home and at school. She doesn’t quite understand at first, she doesn’t even really know how she feels, but eventually she’s able to find a way to talk about what’s bothering her.
Read: Beautifully Me, By Nabela Noo
(Discussion can be during or after the book, depending on your own personal style.)
How is Zubi feeling at the beginning of the book?
- Excited, Good, Happy.
How can we tell how she’s feeling?
- Her facial expression, her stance, her special outfit for a ‘special day’, her body language, she’s spread out and big- taking up space.
What does it feel like to be excited? Happy?
- Responses will vary: You can even ask them to think about where the feeling shows up in their bodies. We’ll be asking these questions again when Zubi’s feelings change.
On the playground Zubi said she could tell Kennedy didn’t mean it as a compliment. How can we tell?
- The look on Alix’s face, they aren’t smiling and they look scared. No one is laughing.
- It’s important to stress that ‘fat’ isn’t bad. Fat is a descriptive word that some people use to describe themselves. And all bodies are different, can do different things, and deserve to be respected. Ultimately it’s up to the person who the word is being said to, or about, to decide how they feel about it.
Alix uses they/them pronouns meaning they identify as non-binary. Non-binary means that person doesn’t really feel like they’re a girl or a boy. They might be a little of both, or somewhere in between. Sometimes when we don’t understand something, we might feel uncomfortable and try to make ourselves feel better by hurting the other person.
Zubi says she can tell Kennedy doesn't mean ‘fat’ as a compliment. Is Kennedy ‘teasing’ or ‘bullying’ Alix? How can we tell?
- Bullying- Nobody else is laughing. She’s the only one saying anything and she’s using a word in a hurtful way.
- Alix looks caught off guard, they aren’t laughing and teasing back.
- She’s yelling it across the playground.
If someone shows up in a way that doesn’t make sense to me, maybe they’re wearing an outfit that I don’t understand, or maybe I’ve never seen anything like it, what can I do instead of making fun of them?
- Ask questions- in a kind and curious way. It’s important to know they may not want to answer any questions and that’s ok. You can always find your trusted adult to help you figure out how to learn more.
- Learn more about them
- Take a deep breath and realize their appearance has nothing to do with me.
- Celebrate that we all get to be who we are!
How is Zubi feeling by the end of the day?
- Sad, mad, confused.
What does it feel like to have all those feelings in your body?
- Responses will vary. You can have the students refer to the pictures of Zubi to answer this if they aren’t able to on their own. Point out the look on her face, the slump of her shoulders - you can compare it to the picture of her on the first day.
What helped Zubi feel better?
- Crying, talking to her family, hearing what her name means, etc.
Each of her family members recognize how the way they were talking about their bodies was affecting Zubi. Naya, her sister had said she was dieting so she could look pretty for a dance but realized that she was comparing herself to other people.
What does she mean by that?
- Responses will vary.
- Sometimes we might think we have to look and act like everyone else.
What does it mean to have power?
There are a lot of different ways to talk about power, I like to think of it as those places where we know we can get our needs met, and we have influence on our environment. We feel like we can move through space freely, those places we can really be ourselves and just kick back and know if we need anything we can get it, either by asking or just getting it ourselves. Raise your hand if you have places like that. For some of us that might be at home, for some it might be at school, or at friends’ house.
There are other spaces where we might not feel so powerful or we might feel like we aren’t able to move and talk freely, we might not feel like we can get our needs met, or speak up. We might even try to take up as little space as possible and not get in anyone’s way. Raise your hand if you’ve been in spaces like that.
It’s helpful to know where you have power, or influence, so you’re able to practice speaking your truth and get the help you need. It’s also good to know where you have power to make a difference.
Where did we see Zubi find her power?
At home around her family. She was somewhere she felt safe and surrounded by people who cared about her. She also seemed to have some feelings of power at the beginning of the book. It’s helpful to think of the people and places we feel like we can speak our truths around. Those are the people that can help us feel better and figure out what to do next.
Let’s think about Kennedy and Zubi. Let’s look at the ways they use their power and influence differently at school?
When we see Kennedy, we see her using her power to bully and make people feel uncomfortable. Maybe she’s just having a bad day, we don’t know if this is something she does all the time. It’s important to think about the ways we use our power. If we happen to be in a place where we feel like we have a lot of power, we might forget that there are people in that same space that might not feel as powerful as us. The choices we make about how we use our power can have an affect on the people around us.
How would it feel to go to a school where there are some people who think it’s ok to say mean things to others, or hurt them in any way?
- Responses will vary but be something like; unsafe, uncomfortable, nervous, etc.
Zubi wants to use her power to try and make her school a little more ‘loving and understanding’. Do you think there are other kids at the school that would help Zubi make her school more ‘loving and understanding’?
Let's look at the pages with pictures of school, the first day and the playground. We can look at the looks on people’s faces on the playground. There were several people who didn’t like the way Kennedy was talking to Alix, maybe they would help. Do you think the teacher would be able to help too?
How do you think being more loving and understanding would help our school feel better and safe for everyone? What would a more loving and understanding school look and feel like?
- Responses will vary.
Sometimes that starts with ourselves and the people close to us.
Take a moment and think about the kids and grown ups that help make school more loving and understanding.
Now, take a moment and think about where you feel like you have power to speak up and get support. Think of 3 adults in your life you feel comfortable talking to about pretty much anything. Once you have those adults in your mind, give me a thumbs up.
What if we’re at school and someone is bullying us or someone else?
Who are the adults at school that you can turn to if you need help?
Have the students brainstorm the adults at school they feel comfortable with. Be sure to name any teachers, counselors, or any adult at school that the students might not think of. If there isn’t time to allow for the student’s responses, list the places those folks can be found in the school- office, library, cafeteria, playground, janitor, etc...
- Note for guest speakers: If you are a guest speaker visiting the classroom to present this lesson and the students point to you as a trusted adult, it’s a good idea to help them realize they don't actually know you very well. Although it’s an honor to be seen as a helpful adult and you do your best to be so, it’s good for students to know that an adult ‘acquaintance’, someone they don’t know really well, should respond by helping the child find an adult that knows them better. I always say, “If you see me in the hall and you need help, my job as an adult you don’t know very well, would be to help you find a teacher, who knows you better. OR if you see me out in public, my job would be to help you find your grown up. It would not be ok for me to take you away and try to help you all on my own.”
● Sometimes the first person you ask for help from might not give you the help you need. For whatever reason, maybe they’re distracted, busy, not really understanding what you need etc.
- You can also say- “Have you ever tried to talk to someone, but they just don’t understand what you’re saying, and you don’t understand them? Sometimes that happens when you’re asking for help too.”
- You might have to ask more than one person for help. You might also have to ask for help again - sometimes grownups might think they’ve solved a problem, but then it happens again - ask for help again. It’s ok for you to keep asking for help until you get the help you need. If one person doesn’t help you, find another person to help you. And this doesn’t mean that the first grown up doesn’t care about you, or that you made the wrong choice in going to them. It just means in that moment and situation, they’re not hearing you in the way you need to be heard.
WHAT TO INCLUDE IN “AFTER THE LESSON”: Summative Assessments; Plans for following-up with absent students and those needing additional support (ELL, 504, IEP, chronic absenteeism, social/emotional, mobile students, etc.); Extension of learning opportunities (recommended lesson plan for extension and follow-up); Lesson revisions, re-mixes, and reiterations.
Have students think about what they can do to help make the classroom, or school more loving and understanding and create a picture or poster of what that would look and/or feel like. This can be done as a class mural, or small group posters, or individual pictures. Hang artwork up in the hall as a message to the rest of the school.
“I Feel” Statement Group Activity:
This is an activity to help communicate their feelings and needs and is meant to be a large group discussion, but can easily be turned into a small group activity.
You’ll need a board or large piece of paper to capture the student’s responses.
If you do want to use this as a small group activity, you’ll want to print out the scenarios, enough for one scenario for each group.
Do you remember how Zubi was so full of feelings that she burst out at the dinner table? Do you think Zubi will be able to remember how good it felt for her to tell her family how she felt? Maybe if she has big feelings again she’ll remember to talk to her family sooner. And if not, that’s ok too. Sometimes we forget. But it’s helpful to know how to talk about our feelings so we’re able to communicate and get our needs met.
What could Zubi have said when she got home? Is there a way she could’ve talked about how she was feeling before she broke down?
Sometimes we have such big emotions it’s hard to find the words. But, if she could've found a way to talk about her feelings it may have helped her feel better sooner. It’s also totally ok to have big emotions and breakdowns, it’s just helpful if we can find a way to express our feelings.
It’s important to learn how to communicate with the people in your life about how you’re feeling about the things that happen to and around you. “I feel” statements help you do that. It’s helpful to practice “I feel” statements as much as possible so that you’ll know how to express your feelings when you need to most, without making the other person defensive.
For example, if I say to my friend, “You’re always so mean to me!” How do you think they’ll feel?
- Mad, angry, etc.
Is it easy to find a solution to a problem when someone’s mad?
What if I say, “I feel sad when you don’t want to play with me, because I like playing with you.” How might my friend react then?
- They’ll listen.
Let’s take a moment to brainstorm some feelings and emotions.
Write their responses on a large piece of paper. Pick one or two of the emotions, try one ‘positive’ and one ‘negative’ emotion, for example: happy and angry.
What are some things that one person can do that might make another person happy?
Smile and say “hi”, tell them they’re a nice person, etc.
What are some things that one person can do to make another person angry? Take their favorite toy without asking, bump into them
It’s important to be able to communicate your feelings to the people in your life when they do things you like and when they do things you don’t like. “I feel” statements can help. They have four parts... and they go like this.
- When you... start with what the person’s behavior or action is anddon’t add words like “always” or “never”. You’re not starting with “you,” but “when you.” This way the focus is on the behavior or action of the person causing harm, not the target of that harm.
- I feel... how you feel about the person’s behavior, or actions. This lets the person know their behavior and actions have an effect on people.
- Because... why are you feeling the way you’re feeling about what the person did?
- I need/want... what do you need, or want to have happen so that you’ll feel better? That might be an apology, space, or a hug. IFor example, if someone kept poking my shoulder to try and get my attention, I might say…
“When you poke my shoulder, I feel frustrated, because I’m trying to concentrate on what I’m doing. I need you to wait till I’m finished.”
As a group, read the following scenarios and help the characters come up with an “I feel” statement that will help them tell the other person how they feel.
- Toby and Sam were playing catch on the playground. Toby kept throwing the ball too far for Sam to catch and would laugh and say sorry every time. The first couple of times Toby did it Sam laughed too, but Sam didn’t think it was funny the 4th, 5th or 6th time. It seemed like Toby started throwing it too far on purpose, thinking it was funny.
How do you think Sam was feeling in this situation? (Angry, confused, hurt...) Do you think Toby knows how Sam feels?
Let’s help Sam tell Toby how they’re feeling by creating an “I feel” statement for this situation.
Sam might say:
Toby, when you... throw the ball too far
I feel... frustrated
Because... I’m tired of running after it
I need/I want... you to throw the ball to me so I can catch it.
What can Toby do to make it better? What would you say if you were Toby and your friend told you they felt sad/mad/hurt?
- . Aisha and Mariana are best friends - they’ve known each other since kindergarten. Every day they play together on the playground. One day, Aisha decides to play with her other friend Malik. Mariana asks if she can play with them and Aisha says no. She tells Mariana that she and Malik are going to play for the rest of recess. At the next recess the same thing happens. At the end of the day, Aisha sits next to Malik during story time and doesn’t make room for Mariana.
How do you think Mariana is feeling? (Sad, hurt, left out etc.)
Do you think she should tell Aisha how she’s feeling?
Help Marina tell Aisha how she’s feeling by creating an “I” Statement to help in this situation.
Mariana might say:
Aisha, when you... don’t play with me
I feel... sad and hurt
Because... I thought we were friends
I need/want... to find a game we can all play together. Or tell me what’s going on.
What can Aisha do to make it better? What would you say if you were Aisha?
Sometimes our friends might need space from us, it’s possible that Aisha needs some space and doesn’t want to play with Mariana. Aisha needs to let Mariana know instead of just not talking to her. That way Mariana can decide what to do next.
- Darius and Mateo were in the same class. One day Mateo was asked to read out loud. He stuttered on some words and heard some of the kid’s giggle. Mateo froze and said he couldn’t read. Darius said, “It’s ok, no one likes reading out loud! It’s hard!” And the rest of the class agreed. Mateo was able to read the rest of his sentence and his teacher congratulated him for sticking with it!
How do you think Mateo is feeling? (Good, happy, distracted.)
Do you think Darius knows how Mateo is feeling?
Create an “I” Statement that Mateo can use to let Darius know how he feels.
Mateo might say:
Darius, when you... stood up for me in class.
I feel... (felt) relieved.
Because... I need/want... to say thank you.
What might Darius say to accept the compliment or positive feedback? What would you say if you were Darius?