I love I-messages............here's why
“I didn’t do it. She did!!!”
- Posted by:
- Michael Grose
Ever caught a child red-handed doing the wrong thing, only to have them deny point blank what they’ve done?
It can be infuriating!
Sometimes kids deny poor behaviour because they don’t want to disappoint you, or simply that they don’t realise what they have done.
When your kids are in denial
over what they have done then use language than focuses on you, rather than them.
For instance, if you find your son or daughter to stop annoying a sibling resist using accusatory language such as: “You were annoying your sister?” It will invoke a response such as: “No, I wasn’t!!”
Then you are involved in an argument with your child. Usually one that you’ll lose or be left feeling inadequate.
Instead, try saying something like this:
“Jeremy, here’s what I saw. I could be wrong, but I saw you sit on the couch and throw a slipper at your sister while she was watching TV. I’d call that annoying. That’s what I saw!”
It’s hard for your child to deny what you saw!
Sometimes kids’ misbehaviour will impact on you on an emotional level. You need to let them know how you feel. If they can come home late from an outing leaving you worried sick or they just leave their toys on the floor all day, try using an I-message to let them know how their behaviour impacts on you.
An I-message sounds like this: “When you............ I feel.............because.........”
“When you come home late I feel worried sick because I don’t where you are.”
“ When your toys are on the floor all day as I feel annoyed because everything is a mess.”
This type of response is aimed at develops empathy in kids and is an essential part of the Thriving! Way of parenting. That is, it lets kids know how their behaviour impacts on others.
Please note that I-messages shouldn’t be used to shame a child, but to get across how you feel about their behaviour. There’s a difference!!!
You can also teach your kids to use I-messages. Here are two examples:
“ I felt awful when you didn’t let me play with you after school because I was looking forward to it all day.”
“It sucks when you always tell me I’m stupid because I feel rotten inside.”
Teach kids to use I-messages using a calm, assertive voice. It has more impact that way.
When using an I-message there is no guarantee that your message will be acted on. But it does heighten the likelihood that your message will be heard.
Next time you are angry, disappointed or annoyed at your child resist telling them off and step back and formulate an I-message.
Then check its impact on your child. With a little bit of luck there’ll be no denial, but a little bit of sheepishness at doing the wrong thing. Best case scenario is that you’ll get an apology. But don’t hold your breath on that one!
Find out more about getting kids to listen up. Go now.
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