You’re walking to math class when you overhear an older student hurl a nasty comment at a kid in your grade. Ugh—you feel like you should say something, but what? You keep walking, pretending that you didn’t hear what was said. But now you’re sitting in class and you can’t quiet the nagging voice in your head saying you did the wrong thing. You wish you could press rewind and speak up.
First, deep breaths. You’re definitely not the first person to feel this way. Taking a stand isn’t always easy. Maybe you’re afraid of looking foolish, saying the wrong thing, or—in this case—becoming the bully’s next target. But here’s the thing: You have other options, says Richard Weissbourd, a psychologist and faculty director of Harvard’s Making Caring Common, an organization that advocates for teaching children ethics and kindness. “There are times when it makes sense to speak up and other times when it can be dangerous,” Weissbourd says. “We want kids to have a tool kit for figuring out the best way to respond.”
The reality is, from bullying to lying to helping friends through tough times, you’re going to encounter many what- should-I-do moments throughout your life, and there will rarely be a one-size-fits- all solution. That’s actually a good thing: In fact, for many situations there are several right answers. Once you know what your options are, it can be a lot easier to figure out which approach is best for the specific circumstance. Take this quiz to test your skills at handling some of life’s trickiest situations, and get ideas for how to sensitively and safely negotiate future dilemmas when they come up.