Superheroes are role models, meaning people look to them to see the best way to act. As a superhero, it’s very important for you to understand your impact on others, including the impact of your words. While this worksheet is based on a mini-game in Hall of Heroes, which features students at a super hero middle school, it can be used with upper elementary as well as middle school students.
This activity will help students think before they speak as they sort situations and responses into four categories: helpful, hurtful, not helpful, and kind. Kindness activities such as this help students make these important distinctions, improving their communication and empathy skills.
Being kind means being considerate of others feelings, showing them you care. These are the opposite of hurtful statements. “Great play in the basketball game!” “I know you’re allergic, so I made sure the cookies are nut-free,” and, “Your artwork is beautiful” are all kind.
A hurtful statement is one that is mean or hurts someone’s feelings. Hurtful statements can be purposeful, like telling someone their outfit is ugly, knowing that they bought it specifically for an event and were excited to wear it. Conversely, you don’t have to have the intent to hurt someone for a statement to be hurtful and make another person feel bad. For example, you could say, “Snakes are gross. I don’t know why anyone would want them for a pet.” If you didn’t know the person you were talking to owned snakes, then you didn’t mean to offend them. But it was still a hurtful statement to them, and warrants an apology.
A statement that is helpful provides assistance, serves to meet a need, or is useful in achieving a goal. Just because something is kind or not hurtful, doesn’t mean it’s helpful or the right thing to say. This can be the hardest nuance for both kids and adults to understand. In troubling situations, we often don’t know the right thing to say. Sometimes it’s good to just admit that. “I’m not sure what to say right now. Just know I’m here to listen.” Otherwise we may say something that’s not particularly helpful in the moment, or could even be seen as hurtful. Platitudes like “everything happens for a reason” can be off-putting when someone has just lost a close relative.
And similarly, just because something’s not helpful, doesn’t make it hurtful. Let’s imagine that your friend just had their car broken into, and their phone and laptop were stolen. Telling your friend the average number of car break-ins at the mall isn’t particularly helpful or thoughtful, but it’s not hurtful either. It’d be more helpful in that situation to tell your friend the chances of recovering their stolen items.
In Part II of our Helpful, Hurtful, Not Helpful, Kind activity, students will cut out the cards on the dotted lines. Then, they’ll read the situation and statement on each card, sorting the cards into four piles based on whether they think that statement is helpful, hurtful, not helpful, or kind for that situation.