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LifeSkills Handbook Activity 54

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 Handbooks Activity 54
Breaking the Cycle of Hurt

Purpose of Activity: To find ways of changing a pattern of behaviour that hurts other people.

Life Skills: Coping with Stress & Emotion, Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking, Communication, Interpersonal Relationships, Empathy


Important Points
If you have not done Activities four & five Identity Factors, do these first. If you have done them, remind the children of the activities and the discussions. This activity uses a technique called visualisation: the children have to use their imagination to be someone else and in another situation. It can be a useful tool to help change behaviour and make sense of events where we lost control. In a conflict situation, remember that if you want to change another person’s behaviour, you have to change your own behaviour first. This activity gives guidelines on what can be said in the session. This is shown in italics. It may be best to try out this activity with a small group first.


  1. Remind the children that behaviour is separate from identity.
  2. Ask everyone to stand up and imagine an occasion when their behaviour hurt someone else or they have been hurt/angry/sad. Close your eyes and picture yourself. You are looking at the other person(s) in that situation. What do you feel? What do you see? What are you hearing? What are you telling yourself?
  3. After five minutes or so, ask them to now open their eyes, step to one side and shake that picture out of your body.
  4. Then ask the children to close their eyes again and to imagine they are the other person. When you are ready, step into the other person’s shoes looking at you. What do you hear? What are you feeling, and what are you telling yourself? Give yourself time to experience being this other person.
  5. After five minutes or so, ask them to open their eyes, step to the side and shake that picture out of your body.
  6. Now imagine you are in a cinema. Imagine that you are in the audience watching a film on the screen. As you see the first character walk onto the screen you, you realise that this character is you! Keep watching yourself in the film. How do you see yourself? If you find yourself feeling emotions as you watch, imagine that the screen is further away until you can watch only. Now the other person comes into the scene of the film. From this position in the audience, what advice would you give yourself?
  7. Now you join the film as yourself. Follow the advice that you have just given yourself. What do you see now, what do you hear, and what are you feeling? Now put yourself in the other person’s place and look at yourself. Take on the other person’s posture, how would they stand, hold themselves and experience the situation from their position. What do they see, hear and feel?
  8. After five minutes or so, ask them to open their eyes, step to the side and shake that picture out of your body.

Final Discussion:

In pairs, what did you experience in the two different scenarios? Was it easier to give yourself advice and see the situation differently when you stepped out of your shoes and saw yourself in the scene? How do you think the experience would be different for the other person from the first scenario to the second?

Follow-up Activity

One person explains their two scenarios, and they roleplay the scenarios to the rest of the class.

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