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The 'I've-done-something-wrong' niggle

To explain that doing something wrong can affect how we feel.

by Janice Ross

Suitable for Key Stage 1


To explain that doing something wrong can affect how we feel.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a hot water bottle, some common medicines such as Vick’s rub, a cough medicine bottle, honey and lemon, junior paracetamol, throat lozenges, and a box of tissues.

  • Whiteboard or flipchart and pen.


  1. If you are doing this lesson with a young reception class then you might bring in a teddy bear who is ‘unwell’. Explain Teddy’s symptoms to the children and ask for suggestions as to how to care for him.

    With an older group of children begin by asking if anyone has been absent from school recently due to illness. Discuss common illnesses and viruses and how they affect us.
  2. Look at the items on the table. Who might use these and in what circumstances?
  3. Explain to the children that you want to talk to them today about a strange little illness which everyone gets at some time or other – mums and dads, teachers, bus drivers and shopkeepers, and especially children. This can affect you in lots of different ways, making you feel quite unwell. Sometimes it can give you a sore tummy or a sore head. Sometimes it can stop you from sleeping. Sometimes it can make you feel like crying. Sometimes you are just grumpy and can’t really say what is wrong with you.

    A hot water bottle won’t help, nor will cough medicine, nor a tablet or sweet, nor even a nice hot drink. This can really trouble you for days. It’s called the ‘I’ve-done-something-wrong niggle’. I wonder how many children have had this illness?

    One of the things that can help is to sit with someone and talk things through. Then the cause of the problem usually begins to come out.
  4. Tell the children the following story from the Bible.

    There was a man who had this same problem. He was a cheat. His job was to collect tax money from everyone in the town. This is a job someone has to do, but this man, called Zacchaeus, used his job to get more money from people than he should have done. He put the extra money in his pocket.

    Now the real name for that kind of behaviour is stealing – although Zacchaeus might not have called it that! As a result he was not very popular; in fact, he had no friends.

    Jesus, however, still loved Zacchaeus, even though he didn’t love the way he behaved. Jesus knew that at times Zacchaeus suffered from the ‘I’ve-done-something-wrong niggle’. Jesus also knew that there was only one cure for Zacchaeus.

    So one day he invited himself to Zacchaeus’ house for a cup of tea. We don’t know exactly what he said to make Zacchaeus feel better, but we do know that, after that chat and cup of tea, Zacchaeus went knocking on the doors of everybody he had cheated and paid them back, four times as much.
  5. Explain to the children that there is a way to get better from the ‘I’ve done-something-wrong niggle’. It is to say ‘sorry’ for the thing you have done or said that was wrong.

    First of all, find the person that you hurt or were unkind to, then simply open your mouth and, if you can, smile nicely and say, ‘I am sorry’. Amazingly you will find that the niggle starts to go.

    It is the same cure for adults too. They are also very prone to this illness. In fact somebody is probably suffering from the ‘I’ve-done-something-wrong niggle’ right at this moment!

Time for reflection


Three coloured circles could be drawn on the board.

Traffic lights can help us to remember how to get rid of this nasty illness.

RED means STOP and think: am I suffering from the ‘I’ve-done-something-wrong niggle’?

AMBER means GET READY to put that right with a nice smile and the little word ‘Sorry’.

GREEN means GO and put things right. You will soon feel so much better again.


Dear God,
Sometimes I am sick. That is because part of my body has got an infection.
Thank you for all the people who look after me when I am unwell,

and thank you for the medicines which help me to get better again.

God, you have made me in such a way that when I make a mistake and do something wrong, my body tells me. I don’t feel right or happy at all.

You want me to get well again by owning up to my mistake and by saying sorry.

Then I can have a healthy body and mind and heart.
Help me to stay well.



‘The Lord’s prayer’ (Come and Praise, 51)

‘Kum ba yah’ (Come and Praise, 68)

Publication date: May 2009   (Vol.11 No.5)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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