Friendship Bugs

This 3rd grade lesson has been adapted from this wonderful, life-saving source right here:


Creative Small Groups

Friendship Bugs

Topics Covered: Responsibility, Fairness, Communication Skills, Interpersonal Effectiveness


  1. Pass out a white piece of paper to each student. For this activity, I did not make it mandatory for them to put their name on the paper.2
  2. Ask them to draw you a bug. I drew one on the board to demonstrate what I meant. The only rules were, it had to have a head and 4 more segments.
  3. When the boys completed their bugs, we talked about things our friends do that “bug” us. We began to brainstorm things other people do that bother us. We made a large list on the board.3
  4. I asked them to find the top 4 things that bother them or “bug” them most and place these on their friendship bug. I asked them to place a star next to the thing that upsets them the most.
  5. Once the bugs were completed, I allowed them to share some of the things that bother them most. The conversations that came up helped them see that they shared a lot of the same “bugs,” as well as some, “WHAT? That really does bug you? I thought you were just joking.”4
  6. Then, I had them flip their paper over and draw me a second bug. Same rules applied.
  7. This time, after hearing other classmates’ bugs, they had to determine what they do that might bother other classmates. They listed these 4 things and placed a star by the one thing they were willing to change.
  8. We came together again and shared the one thing we realized we do that bothers other people. As the boys were reading their “bugs,” I could see a lot of the boys nodding and lot of them say, “Oh good, it’s about time,” etc.


The boys struggled a little bit finding their own “bugs.” They kept saying,”But, I like everything about myself. ” I had to give them a lot of examples, especially a better clarification that “bugs” aren’t things we don’t like about ourselves, they are just things we know might bother others that we would like to change. I provided MANY examples.

One that I’m sure Spence can nod his head to was my interrupting problem. I told the boys that I am terrible about interrupting people. I told them that it didn’t mean I disliked myself or that others disliked me. It was only a bad habit that I was willing to change.


I think it’s easy for children to name things they dislike about others, or name behaviors that are inappropriate, etc, but reflecting inward is a skill they need to be taught. It’s not easy, but who said everything we teach children should be? Personal development is not any different.


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