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LifeSkills Handbook Activity 19

This is a single activity session plan from The Lifeskills Handbook. There are 61 activity sessions altogether. The handbook is available from our resources section where you’ll also find downloadable storybooks, books and posters to help you in your work.

LifeSkills Handbook Activity 19
Communication: You and I

Purpose 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 that open the way to discussion rather than close it.

Life skills: Communication & interpersonal relationships, self-awareness, critical thinking

Important points

This is a language-based activity so it needs to be adapted carefully.


  • None


  • Divide children into groups of three. Ask one of the groups to be an observer. The group prepares a 5-minute roleplay on an argument such as those below.
    1. Husband comes home drunk. Wife is angry with him. Husband blames the wife.
    2. Father is angry with his child because they never do their homework and is often out with friends.
    3. Girl is angry with her boyfriend because all he wants is sex.
    4. Woman standing in a bus with a baby on her back complains that the adolescents do not offer her a seat.
  • 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 roleplay and the other half to count how many times the word ‘I’ is used.
  • Groups do their roleplays. At the end of each one, ask the observers to say how many times ‘you’ and ‘I’ was used in each drama.
  • 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 can help to find a way to a solution.
  • Explain the steps in I statements:
    1. 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…’
    2. 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.
    3. The reason: Because
      You can add an explanation, but ensure that it is 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.’
    4. The suggestion: What I’d like is…
      Make a statement of the change you would like. For example, ‘What I’d like is discuss this with you.’

 You can take a break here

  • Remind the children of the ‘I’ statements and, 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 his child because they never do their 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?

  • 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) and why?


Remember this formula and encourage the children to use it to resolve conflicts.

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