What To Do When “I Statements” Don’t Work

Written by Gabi on . Posted in Parenting and Family Relations











“I Statements” are pure magic. They teach us, reprogram us to speak to our children in a new way. “I Statements” teach us to be logical, clear, and non-aggressive in our requests. But, alas! every magic has its limitations. “I Statements” if used improperly will not bring the results you deserve. Read these three most common parent complaints to be sure you are using them to help, not harm, your family communication.

Parent Complaint #1

“It’s so fake! I sound like a robot! I can’t talk this way!”

Of course it’s fake.  We are used to yelling, screaming, blaming, and losing control. Suddenly, limiting our monologue to four bullet points is very awkward. That is the point. We want to create a new dynamic of speech between you and your children: one that works respectfully and effectively.

It is precisely due to these disciplined limitations that we can communicate effectively. Say what, how you feel, why, and what you want and move on. This structure is what allows us to convey our pain without harming others.
Tell your kids your kids you want to respect them, even in anger. Tell them you are using a new ‘language’  to do that. Use the paper, if necessary, until you get it right. Hold on! It’s worth it!

Parent Complaint #2

“I used ‘I Messages’ all week. We’re in the same place as before!”
In today’s world, we want instant everything. Use your magic “I Statement” and watch everything miraculous transform in front of your eyes.
“I Statements”, though non-confrontational, are still dealing with issues. Issues take time to resolve: mindsets need to change, hurt feelings need to mend, old habits need to be replaced by new habits. These things all take time.
Hold on to you new respectful form of communication. While you guide your family towards the changes you wish to see, you can be proud of yourself knowing that, through it all, you did your best do so with dignity.

Parent Complaint #3

“These statements weaken my authority at home.  I can’t use them.”

Using “I Statements” does not take away your parental authority. It actually does quite the opposite- it strengthens it.
By focusing on one specific instance (part 1), you are inviting your child to make a single, doable, feasible change.
By expressing your emotions (part 2), you are inviting your child to be empathetic to your feelings.
By stating your reasons (part 3), you are teaching your child the logic behind your expectations.
By expressing what you want (part 4), you are being firm, clear, and specific regarding what you want.
In all four parts of the “I Statements”, you are inviting your child to see you as a person with legitimate feelings and needs, just like him. Being a kind, respectful, reasonable leader makes you a much more powerful one.


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