COMMUNICATION SKILLS – “I” Messages
An “I” Message is a specific skill that empowers your children with words, by teaching them an alternative to acting out or hitting.
Parts of an “I” Message:
I feel . . . . (frustrated),
when I . . . . (can’t get the new game)
because . . . . (I won’t be able to play with my friends.)
Using an “I” Message when angry:
Help your children to figure out the feelings that lie beneath their anger. Give them feeling words that might describe their emotions; for example: frustrated, sad, disappointed, excited,…
Tell your children that they can be angry and think at the same time – they can figure out what they are angry about and find a non-hurtful way to express it.
Practice through role playing what your children can say in a situation in which they are angry. Teach them to tell the person what they don’t like and how they are feeling.
“I don’t like it when you don’t let me stay up to watch my program.”
“I am angry because you took Steven to the store and not me.”
“I don’t want to go to Grandma’s because Thomas invited me over to play at his house. I want to go to Thomas’.”
Remind them when angry that they can use an “I” Message. For example, if your children yell at you, you can state:
“When I hear you yell at me like that I don’t want to listen to you because you are being disrespectful to me. What I would like to hear you say is ‘Mommy, you are not listening to me. I would really like this cereal this week. Can we get it?’”
Be responsive if your children use an “I” Message with you. Even if you cannot grant their wish, you can tell them:
“Thank you for letting me know how you feel. I appreciate how clearly and calmly you expressed yourself.”
“I” Messages will help your children:
slow down, better understand what is upsetting them and give them some time to figure out what to do next.
become less egocentric as they consider others’ feelings.
create healthy relationships that let others know how they feel.
For more information about managing anger, check out the following books. Purchasing from Amazon.com through our website supports the work we do to help parents do the best job they can to raise their children.