Use “I Messages”

October 24th, 2011

by Katrina Brooke

When talking with other adults or with your children “I” messages are a positive way to communicate your thoughts and feelings.  “I” messages are statements of fact about the speaker.  The speaker can tell others how their behavior is making  the speaker feel.  Since young children frequently do not know how their behavior can affect other people, “I” messages are much better learning tools than “You” messages when children misbehavior or you need to talk to an adult about their actions.

“I-Message” I need help picking up now.       “You-Message” You sure made a mess.

“I-Message”   I don’t feel like reading a story when I’m tired.        “You-Message”  You’re a pest.

“I-Message”  I sure get upset when I see mud on the floor.          “You-Message”  You ought to be ashamed.

“I-Message”  I can’t hear you with all that screaming.         “You-Message”  You better shut up!

“I-Message”  I don’t understand.         “You-Message”  You are not telling me so I can understand you.

“I-Messages” give children the responsibility for changing their own behavior.  For example, if the adult says, “I see a little bit of dirt on your face,” then the child has the responsibility to so something about the dirt. (Giving them information, no direction.)   MORE at: http://www.dshs.wa.gov/pdf/publications/22-649.pdf

Director’s Note:

When communicating with others about how you feel you will find they will empathize with you and help you find a solution to a problem.  When you use “You-Messages” people often feel attacked and go on the defensive.  It then takes longer to get to the problem solving step.

If you need to have the assistance of another person to solve a problem a good way to start is “I feel”, “because”, “I want”.

Katrina Brooke Director at The Shyne School.


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