This is a single activity session plan from our book, The Life Skills Handbook, a book available in digital format (only)). There are 61 activity sessions in this book. Click here for more information on the book and how to purchase itPurpose of activity:
- To learn ways of talking effectively to someone with whom you have a problem
- To practise making non-judgemental statements
- To practice making statements which open the way to discussion rather than close it.
Life skills: Communication & interpersonal relationships, selfawareness, critical thinkingImportant points: This is a language-based activity so it needs to be adapted carefully.
1. Divide children into groups of three. Ask one of the groups to be an observer. The group prepares a 5-minute role play on an argument such as those below.
- Husband comes drunk. Wife is angry with him. Husband blames the wife
- Father is angry with son/daughter because s/he does not hand in homework on time and is often out with friends
- Girl is angry with boyfriend because all he wants is sex
- Woman standing in bus with a baby on her back complains that the young people do not offer her a seat
2. Ask all the observers to come together in a group. Ask half of them to count the number of times the word YOU is used in each role-play and the other half to count how many times the word I is used.
3. Groups do their role-plays. At the end of each one, ask the observers to say how many times YOU or I was used in each drama.
4. Explain to the people that YOU statements tend to be judgement statements which are often full of blame. They do not consider the point of view of the other side so they cause more conflict. I statements usually try to clarify your point of view about a situation rather than to blame the other person. I statements help to find a way to a solution.
5. Explain the steps in I statements.
- The action: When ...Make a specific and non-judgemental statement, for example, ‘When you come home late at night ...’NOT ‘When you finally decide to come home’
- The response: I feel...Your feelings are a fact and cannot be argued. For example…’I feel sad and hurt…’ NOT, ‘I think you don’t care’. ‘I think’ can cause more conflict if the other person disagrees with you.
- The reason: because...You can add an explanation but make sure that it is still a positive one and not a blaming statement, for example ’…because I like to have some time with you in the evening.’NOT ‘because you never do anything for me.’
- The suggestion: What I'd like is...Make a statement of the change you would like, for example, ‘What I’d like is to discuss this with you.’
6. Remind the children of the ‘I’ statements. In pairs, ask the children to discuss one of the conflict situations and to think of the ways in which the characters could use ‘I’ statements to avoid conflict and resolve the situation, for example: Father is angry with son/daughter because s/he never does homework and is often out with friends I statement: When you do not do your homework, I feel disappointed because I want you to do well at school. What I'd like is to discuss why you do not want to work at home?
7. Discuss the results of this exercise. Point out that I statements can be used in many different situations, in the market, in the bus, etc. Ask children to try using I statements at least once before the next session.
Final discussion: What do you think of the I statement formula? Can you use it? Who do you think it could be more successful with? (adults? peers? partners?) Why?
Follow Up: Remember this formula and encourage the children to use it to resolve conflicts.
Click here for more information on the Life Skills Handbook and how to purchase it. JOIN THE CONVERSATION on Linked in at our Life Skills Group