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Enhancing relationships: being assertive

Possible Learning Activities

  • Students could brainstorm situations where their rights have been challenged, such as when another student queue-jumps or keeps interrupting them when they are working. They discuss their reactions to each of these situations and identify the three different ways that people deal with a challenge to their rights: passively, aggressively, and assertively.
  • Discuss and demonstrate, for example, through role-play:
    • passive response (keeping the head down, looking and sounding timid, and making no eye contact)
    • aggressive response (using a loud voice and physical force, glaring, using put-downs, and making threats)
    • assertive response (making eye contact, speaking firmly but pleasantly, and making clear statements).
  • Stress the use of eye contact, body language, facial expressions, and the choice of words.
  • Students can list the main steps in making an assertive response, as follows.
  1. Make a personal statement about how you feel, such as “I feel annoyed when ...”.
  2. Give a reason for your statement, such as “... when you keep interrupting my work.”
  3. Suggest an alternative, such as “How about talking to me at lunchtime instead?”
  4. If the other person continues the challenge, repeat your “I” statement and then, if necessary, leave.
  • Students can choose a situation from those identified earlier and, in pairs, role-play an assertive response. Encourage students to analyse the difference in their feelings when being assertive, passive, or aggressive.

Suggested Learning Outcome

Students will demonstrate assertiveness when their rights are challenged (3C3).


(particularly taha whānau, taha hinengaro, and taha wairua)

Maintaining personal beliefs, enhancing emotional well-being, and strengthening positive social interaction.

Attitudes and Values

Taking responsibility for their own well-being and respecting the rights of others.

Teachers' Note

Further ideas for helping students to use "I" statements can be found in Reaching Forward, pages 55-56, and The Cool Schools Peer Mediation Programme, pages 31-32. Experiences for resolving conflict can be found in Reaching Forward, pages 86-91.