Everyone knows that I am a big advocate of using effective communication skills with our family. That includes, our kids, spouses, our own parents, siblings and in-laws.
One of the best communication techniques that you can use is the “I” statement. It can help in so many different situations. We spoke about some of the benefits of “I” statements in our previous posts. We discussed how “I” statements can be used to help us stop, teach our kids our values, and to let our loved ones know they are appreciated.
Communicating with our kids can be tough at all times, but I think it is most difficult when we need to confront our kids (or even our spouses, or other family members, mentioned above) about their poor behavior.
Because it can be tricky, Thomas Gordon from Parent Effectiveness Training gives specific instructions on how to deliver what he calls the Confrontive “I” message. He breaks it down into 3 parts:
1. Describing your child’s misbehavior
2. Description of the tangible, negative effects it has upon you
3. Description of your feelings
In Part I of the Confrontive ”I” statement you want to describe the negative behavior in a non-confrontational manner:
“When the laundry is on the floor…”
“When there is arguing between siblings…”
“When the TV is left on…”
You should try to avoid using judgment statements or what Gordon calls, “triggering catch words” like, “you always” and “you never.”:
“When you always leave the laundry all over the place…”
“When you never leave your sister alone and are so mean to her…”
“When you never listen to any of our rules…”
In Part II of the Confrontive ”I” statement you want to describe the negative effects that their behavior has on you. This can be very personal. It could be a loss of your time, energy or even money. It could also be something that prevents you from doing what you want to do. It can be something that assaults your senses or causes a loss of enjoyment and pride.
So you would add:
“When the laundry is on the floor, I need to spend extra time collecting dirty clothes…”
“When there is arguing between siblings,I find the noise distracting…”
“When the TV is left on the electricity bill is high…”
In Part III of the Confrontive “I” statement you would describe how his/her actions make you feel.
“When the laundry is on the floor, I need to spend extra time collecting dirty clothes and I get frustrated that I have not gotten the help I need…”
“When there is arguing between siblings,I find the noise distracting and I get frustrated that dinner is not made in a timely fashion…”
“When the TV is left on the electricity bill is high I get worried about our budget…”
Sounds complicated? I know. Communicating effectively with your loved ones is not easy. Learning these skills can help.
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