The World Starts With Me

Emotional Ups & Downs

Welcome Teachers

In this lesson, students read a presentation about the emotional challenges of an adolescent. They reflect for themselves what issues they encounter and they do role plays about expressing and dealing with emotions.


  • Students learn about emotional changes in adolescence
  • Students learn how they can deal with the challenging emotions at this stage of their lives

Learning Objectives

Students can:


  • explain why adolescence can be a confusing time (appearance, personality, future) and that this is a natural part of growing up
  • explain that most adolescents experience similar challenges and uncertainties
  • list four changes during adolescence and explain that developing sexual feelings and feelings related to love is part of growing up
  • list four emotions and how these can be expressed
  • identify some important emotions of their own
  • explain that fluctuating emotions are part of adolescence
  • explain the concepts of self-esteem, self-respect and self-awareness
  • explain that most young people find it important what other people think of them, especially peers
  • explain that, in adolescence, young people become more independent from their parents and get more responsibilities as they grow older
  •  list five things for which an adolescent is gaining responsibility during adolescence
  • explain the right to their own decision-making
  • explain positive influences of self-esteem and self-respect
  • describe how peers and media can - positively and negatively - influence their opinion about themselves


  • argue the importance of self-awareness, self-esteem and self-respect
  • argue the importance of respect for each unique individual and empathy with peers
  • show awareness of the right to their own decision-making
  • argue the importance of sharing with peers the difficulties involved in emotional change
  • argue the relation between the influence of the media and peers and the right to their own decision-making


  • provide a scenario for how to initiate a friendship and how to initiate support from friends
  • demonstrate social skills (listening to other people, complimenting other people)
  • explain step by step how to solve a problem when they have a problem with other young people
  • demonstrate communication skills to communicate and share concerns with parents and friends

Computer, design and creative skills

  • play a role, drama
  • speak in public

Optional: surfing the web, exploring the relevant websites

Lesson Outline

1. Greeting Game (5 mins)
2. Ego Booster (15 mins)
3. Emotional Ups & Downs - Presentation (30 mins)
4. Role play (30 mins)
5. Conclusion and homework (5 mins)


Ask a few students to tell something about their reflection activity from the previous lesson. 

Warming Up

Greeting Game (5 mins)


  • Students move and interact with each other in a fun way

Explain the different greetings and appoint/invite a leader and tell students to move up and down and around within the space available, one student leading the game. This leading person does not participate in the game.

Students wander around with sort of a trotting movement while the leader keeps saying 'mingle, mingle'. Suddenly, the leader says 'find a partner' and calls out a type of greeting. Everyone greets the person they are with at that moment in the style appropriate to the greeting named. Repeat the game until everyone has practiced each greeting.

Greeting 1 is 'Greet a good friend'
Greeting 2 is 'Greet your mother or father'
Greeting 3 is 'Greet a stranger'
Greeting 4 is 'Greet your boyfriend or girlfriend'


Ego Booster (15 mins) (this activity is also an option in lesson 1)


  • Students are reminded that everyone has good qualities
  • Students concentrate on their positive sides

Students feel empowered


Step 1
Each student takes a piece of paper and writes his/her name at the top.

Step 2
Each student passes the paper around the class. Each person who gets the paper writes something positive about this student at the bottom of the page, folds it from the bottom up to cover what they have written and then passes it on to another student. When all students have had their turn, the paper returns to its owner.

Step 3
Finally, all students get their own papers back with a list of positive things about themselves.

Step 4
Ask a few students to share something on their paper with the group.


Emotional Ups & Downs - Presentation (30 mins)


  • Students are introduced to the topics of fluctuating emotions, heightened responsibility, rights and the importance of peers, and are given some advice and tips on how to deal with these changes.
  • Students identify their own feelings as part of this period of growing up and recognize similarities with their peers.


Step 1
The students read and answer the presentation individually or - preferably - in pairs. Questions are not intended as a knowledge quiz but to help students identify what they are presently dealing with.


Role Play (30 mins)


  • Students play out roles in a given situation
  • Students learn some words to describe confusing feelings and changes
  • Students experience how it feels to talk about personal things
  • Students learn by watching how others handle difficult situations


Step 1
Divide the class into four groups. Each group is given a story to role play in the tools, games and materials session. Students take 10 minutes to:

  • Read the background information about the characters and the situation
  • Divide the roles
  • Think of what they are going to say to each other

Step 2
The groups perform their role play in front of the group. The groups continue role-playing for a while until the scene comes to a conclusion.

Step 3
Decide how many role plays can be performed considering the time available. The other groups watch and afterwards comment on choices made and things said in the role plays. You can use suggested questions to help discussing each role play:

  • What do you think of the situation?
  • How did they respond?
  • How could they improve their response to their team mates?
  • How did they explain the situation?
  • What could they have done or said differently?


Conclusion and homework (5 mins)

Ask the groups for any general comments or remarks on the lesson and what they have learned.

Tell students their homework activity for the coming week: ask students to look out for situations related to this lesson and write down three examples they come across over the next few days when they or their peers are having difficulty being an adolescent.

Tools, Games & Materials
Tools, Games and Materials

Role playing stories

Story 1. Lense and Fikru: breasts?


  • Students learn that every young person changes in a different way and at a different pace
  • Students learn to talk about sensitive issues with someone of the opposite sex
  • Students practice assertiveness skills
  • Students experience support from health care providers

Introduction to the role play and the characters
Lense is a 13-year-old girl who is worried about her body and her appearance. Her breasts are bigger than those of all other girls in her class. Fikru is one of Lense's classmates. He and some other boys tease Lense about her breast size. They say that her breasts are big because she has already had sexual intercourse.

Lense knows she hasn't had sex yet, but she is worried why her breasts are much bigger than all other girls in her class. Lense's friend doesn't know either but advises her to ask a nurse who lives in the neighbourhood.

Lense visits the nurse, an older lady, who explains that it is a myth that breast are bigger if you have had sexual intercourse. She tells her: 'Myths like these can be dangerous, mostly because they add to your worries. They make you think you can do things to change something that you just cannot control. The bodies of all adolescents change, some slower, some faster and all in different ways. There is nothing to be worried about, so tell your peers they are wrong!'

Role play
sees Lense leaving the nurse's house and takes the opportunity to tease her:
Fikru: 'Hi Lense, are you worried about your sexual behaviour?', he sneers at her, pointing to the nurse's house.
Lense: 'Let me explain to you...'

Suggested questions for the observers:

  • What do you think of the situation?
  • How did Lense respond to Fikru?
  • What were the good points in her response?
  • Are there any points she could have done differently in her response towards Fikru?
  • How did she explain the situation?
  • What could she have done or said differently?

Story 2. Tigist and Bontu: mood swings


  • Students learn to share difficulties with peers
  • Students learn to talk about sensitive issues with someone they do not know very well
  • Students experience the importance of support by peers

Introduction to the role play and the characters

Tigist is a 15-year-old girl with mood swings. Just like most adolescents, hormones affect her emotions. One minute she may feel happy and excited, but the next minute, she may feel like crying. She feels great about herself one day and bad the next.

Bontu is a 17- year-old girl. She is the girlfriend of a boy named Tamrat and looks quite secure about herself. Of course, she also feels less self-confident and shy sometimes. She thinks Tigist is a nice girl, but she doesn't know her very well. Tigist is in another class.

A group of girls is hanging out together after school. Sometimes Tigist is invited to join them. The other girls are nice but a bit 'cool'. Tigist feels good when she is with them, but sometimes she feels insecure. One time, Tamrat made a joke about her looks. Tigist just decided to laugh it off like the rest of the group.

But this time Haile makes a joke saying 'I think Tigist needs to sleep with someone, then she'll be less shy.' Tigist feels so bad and almost starts to cry and decides to walk away. Now she is ashamed. Why didn't she just laugh and respond to Haile with a joke?

Tigist doesn't want to go to school tomorrow. Her sister advises Tigist to visit one of the girls in the group, Bontu, to talk to her and explain that she sometimes feels insecure.Tigist wants to explain her behaviour to Bontu, so she will feel less ashamed.

Role play
Tigist : 'Hi Bontu, I wanted to talk to you about what happened yesterday.'
Bontu: '...

Suggested questions for the observers:

  • What do you think of the situation?
  • Did Tigist approach Bontu well?
  • How did Bontu respond?
  • Did Tigist explain her situation well?
  • What could both have done or said differently?

Story 3. Derara and his mother: 'help, I have hair everywhere'


  • Students learn to talk with parents about sensitive topics such as emotions and physical changes
  • Students experience the importance of support by parents

Introduction to the role play and the characters
Derara is a 15-year-old boy. He likes sports such as soccer and swimming. He dreams of becoming a professional soccer player. Derara looks like an average 15-year-old boy.

Derara's mother has ten children, seven of whom are still alive and living at home. Derara's father died a year ago. Derara's mother is always very busy because she has to provide food and clothes for the family. She also has to provide school materials for Derara. Derara is her eldest. Up till now, she hasn't seen any signs of puberty, but these days Derara is not behaving the same way he did before.

Derara is shocked! Since a few months, hair has been growing on his private parts. He thinks he's sick and he feels ugly. He doesn't want to go swimming in the lake anymore and comes up with all kinds of excuses. Finally, he plucks up the courage to tell his mother. He thinks she won't make fun of him. He's afraid his friends will make fun of him and girls won't find him attractive if they find out about the hair.

Role play
Derara decides to talk to his mother, hoping she will listen to him.
Derara: 'Mum, I have to tell you something.'

Suggestions for questions for the observers:

  • What do you think of the situation?
  • What was good about the way Derara turned to his mother?
  • How could he have improved the way he talked to his mother?
  • Did she explain about the pubic hair well?
  • What could she have done or said differently?

 Story 4. Atsede and Fayou: my friend smells


  • Students learn that there are ways to live hygienically
  • Students learn to talk about sensitive topics with friends
  • Students experience the importance of support from peers

Introduction to the role play and the characters
Atsede is 16 years old. She talks a lot and is quite outgoing. Atsede has two elder sisters. One of them is still living at home. Fayou is one of Atsede's friends. Atsede is very fond of her.

Fayou is also 16 years old. She is a bit shy and quiet. Fayou is the eldest in her family. Fayou is sometimes jealous of Atsede: she is so funny and sharp and she has big sisters to talk to.

Atsede and Fayou have been friends for a few years now. Fayou is sometimes shy and doesn't find it easy to talk about herself. Lately, Atsede has noticed that Fayou smells sweaty. Fayou herself probably noticed it too because she's keeping her distance from other people and presses her arms to her body all the time. Atsede's sister told Atsede that there's deodorant you can use to avoid this. Atsede wants Fayou to feel more comfortable again and tries to talk about the subject.

Role play
: 'Fayou, you know what I have noticed among some of us lately ..'
Fayou: 'Tell me …'

Suggested questions for the observers:

  • What do you think of the situation?
  • Did Atsede introduce the subject well?
  • Could she have improved the way she talked to Fayou?
  • Did Atsede explain the situation well?
  • Did Fayou respond adequately?
  • What could both Fayou and Atsede have done or said differently?

Story 5. Tsedale and Tsegaye: fashion model


  • Students learn to deal with media influence
  • Students experience support from other people in accepting themselves
  • Students learn assertiveness skills

Introduction to the role play and the characters
Tsedale is 17 years old. She's curious and wants to live a life that's different from that of her mother. She dreams a lot and loves watching television: one day she will be on the catwalk!Tsegaye, her brother, is 20 years old. He's the eldest one living at his parents' home and feels responsible for his brothers and sisters.

Tsedale wants to become a model. Not just a model, no she really wants to become a star. She looks fine, but she thinks of herself as being too fat. Tsegaye thinks it's ridiculous and even shameful that his sister wants to live a life as a model. He has heard some stories from Addis Ababa about the kind of life models live. There is always alcohol and drugs involved. If he says something about this to Tsedale, she's strong headed and has only one problem on her mind: she thinks she's too fat and she doesn't want to eat normally anymore!

Tsegaye's parents will never allow Tsedale to live a life as a model. Tsegaye wants to prevent his parents from knowing what Tsedale is dreaming of and tries to persuade Tsedale to eat and act normally again. Tsegaye wants to confront her with the influence of the media on Tsedale's taste. He shows her pictures of Ethiopian models and pictures of Ethiopian models with a Western look.

For him, it's obvious that Ethiopian models look much better, healthier and more decent. Besides, as a tiny model Tsedale will never find a husband.

Role play
One evening, Tsegaye decides to talk toTsedale about this.
Tsegaye: 'Tsedale, I want to show you an example of what beauty is.'
Tsedale: '…'

Suggested questions for the observers:

  • What do you think of the situation?
  • Did Tsegaye try to changeTsedale's opinion well?
  • How could Tsegaye have improved his presentation?
  • Did Tsedale respond to Tsegaye well?
  • How did Tsedale try to convince Tsegaye of her future dream?
  • What could both Tsegaye and Tsedale have done or said differently?

We as friends share our emotional up's and down's

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