Express Yourself With “I” Statements

Watching my children fight, or listening to them bicker and argue, generally leaves me thinking about their conflict management skills, or their lack thereof.

After the wave of frustration and the crush of guilt subside, I begin frantically making a mental list of everything I want them to learn: manners, courtesy, respect, honor, humility, responsibility, tact, etc. Oh, the list can go on and on, but allowing that kind of run-on never produces anything worthwhile; just stress.

Teaching our children positive ways to identify and share their feelings is one of the great gifts we can offer. Notice I said “positive.” Without our dedicated effort to monitor the way we model this skill, our children may witness and embrace less than acceptable methods; like screaming, blaming, name calling, slamming doors, throwing things, biting, hitting, running away… I think you’ve got the point.

This is where “I” Statements come into play. “I” Statements (the opposite of “You” Statements) are excellent tools for identifying and owning your feelings, responding non-aggressively to upsetting circumstances and stating your feelings…all without placing blame.

“You” Statements vs. “I” Statements

You make me mad when you ruin my things.
I feel angry when my things get broken.

You made us late by playing with your toys instead of getting ready.
I am frustrated because I was late to my appointment.

You’re always bugging me. Stop it!
I’d like some quiet time please.

Your toys are everywhere and I’m sick of looking at them!
I am disappointed there are toys scattered throughout the family room.

According to Culture Change in Practice, an I-statement has four parts. (However, by simply starting with an “I” — even without four parts — you remove the offensive/blaming tone from the beginning of your conversation.)

1.     “I feel ____________ ”  (take responsibility for your own feelings)
2.     “when you _________ ” (state the behavior that is a problem)
3.     “because ___________” (what about the behavior or its consequences that you objects to)
4.     “I’d appreciate it if you would ______________ ” (offer a preferred alternative to the behavior)

I-Statements don’t come naturally, unless you’ve been practicing them for a while. Why not start now? Learn more about I-Statements by simply clicking here.