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Prevent bullying: 5 exercises to develop empathy

Prevent bullying: 5 exercises to develop empathy

Preventing aggression and harassment is the most effective way to combat bullying.

Bullying. Bullying … Bullying! This word has been so common in everyone’s mouth lately. But why become bullies? Why do some people so ruthlessly insult and humiliate others? And, most importantly, is it possible not only to solve the problem in fact, but also to prevent its occurrence? So! After all, there are reasons for everything, and the tendency to bullying, too.

A psychologists,  tell us the cause of aggressive behavior can be not only their own negative experiences as victims of bullying or personal complexes, but it also the lack of ability to understand  others emotional state and the inability to direct their behavior accordingly. Here are some effective exercises.

Exercise “Understand the emotion of the hero”

This exercise is best done in small groups so that each student can be listened to.

Choose a short story, the content of which will correspond to the peculiarities of the psychological development of the age group of students. Prepare a set of cards for each student in advance, which symbolically depicts different emotional states. Example:

Principle of execution: As you read the story, ask students to put a few cards on the table that they think correspond to the emotional state of the characters. After that, organize a discussion in which everyone will say which cards he chose and why them.

Game exercise “Feel that you …”

This game develops creative thinking, helps to “get used” to various roles and analyze emotional states accordingly. It is best to spend it with middle and high school students.

Prepare cards with pictures of different objects (for example: rain, fire, ray, tree, weeds, shark, etc.) and hand them out to students in any order. Prerequisite – none of the participants must see what is shown on the cards of other players.

Principle of performance: The task of each student is to invent and tell an emotional story on behalf of the character depicted on his card, ie to convey that this character feels why he does such actions and more. It is necessary to convey as much as possible and at the same time the most accurate features of character or features inherent in an object, creature or phenomenon, without naming it.


Other players have to guess on whose behalf the story is being told. The winner of the game is the one who managed to most accurately and creatively convey the image of his character from the card.

Exercise “Intonation”

This exercise will help students learn not only to listen to what they are told, but also to pay attention to the emotions of the speaker.

Principle of performance: Explain to students what intonations are and what they are like. Invite them to take turns saying phrases of the same meaning, but with different emotions (exciting, embarrassed, angry, joyful, etc.). Or offer to recreate the dialogue of a well-known fairy tale, beating the lines of the main characters with different emotions.

Carpman’s Triangle Game Exercise

This exercise allows you to “try on” the roles of each party to the conflict.

Divide students into groups of 3 people, identify roles among the participants – “victim”, “bully”, “savior”. Think about the plot of the bullying situation in advance: on the basis of appearance, academic success, wealth in the family, gender preferences or more.

Principle of execution: At the signal, students of each group for 5-7 minutes play the situation in these roles. After that, they change roles and again beat a similar situation.

The exercise lasts until each of the group members is in each of the three roles. Then invite students to discuss together the emotions they had when they were in each of the roles: what they felt, what made them happy or embarrassed.

Reflect together and discuss what they think causes children or adolescents to become bullies or victims. What you need to do to become neither a bully nor a victim. How should an observer behave to help resolve a conflict while not becoming a victim? You should discuss what the students understood in each of the three roles in the bullying situation and it is very important to know that .

Exercise “Find the reason”

This exercise will help students not only see the problem of conflict each time, but will also help students think about what caused the situation. This will help to understand the appropriate behavior of each of the parties to the conflict.

Principle of performance: During the educational lesson, watch a cartoon or children’s film with students, the characters of which are in conflict with each other or offend someone. Invite them to think together about why this is happening and how each of the characters could have helped to resolve the conflict.