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Teaching I-Messages to Children

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a creative way to teach "I-messages" to children

I just posted a tip called The “Two Arm Technique”.  Well, after that was published, I discovered that Althea, the women who taught me the technique, actually calls it “A Child In Each Arm.”  Oops – my bad!

The parenting script I posted was for children with limited verbal skills.  If you have older children, you are ready to move on to teaching them “I-messages.”

I learned one creative way to teach “I-messages” to children from Suzanne Smitha, a Positive Discipline trainer.  She calls it “Bugs and Wishes.”

Suzanne trains classroom teachers, and she recommends teachers buy a toy stuffed ladybug and a magic fairy wand for their classroom.  The teacher can explain to the children at their class meeting or carpet time that in their classroom, when someone is upsetting them, the student can go pick up the the stuffed bug and wand, take them to their classmate, and while holding out the bug, say:

“It BUGS me when…” (e.g., you snatch my toy)

and, next, extend the wand symbolically to offer their “wish:”

“and I WISH you would ask me for a turn instead” (This informs the person of the behavior they would appreciate instead.)

This is more rich in content and is far more educational than the “I don’t like that” statement, but it does require more verbal and cognitive skills. Try it out and let me know what happens.

About Alyson

Alyson has been blogging parenting advice for over 15 years. She has been a panelist at BlogWest, Blissdom, #140NYC and more. Her content appears on sites across Canada and the US, but you can read all her own blog posts right here.

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One Response to “Teaching I-Messages to Children”

  1. teenparenting

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