By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | July 22, 2015
“You! You’re a terrible person! You are thoughtless and careless! You are no good!”
“You” is heard by the child as an attack or blame; that automatically puts a child on the defensive. The quote above is not what the parent actually said to the child; this was below.
“You forgot to put the tools away and they rusted; honestly, when will you ever learn to take care of things.”
Children may often misinterpret comments from a parent and read into it by inflection and facial cues. They hear one thing and think another. Effective communication is the key.
Using “I” messages takes practice but it can truly change the direction of the conversation from blame to ‘what can we do about this’ to solve problems.
“Oh my, these tools are rusted; can you help me clean them up?”
Believe me; the child knows they left the tools out. They need not admit guilt for something like this; shame only drives negative feelings deeper. When negative emotions get involved it may take away from the lesson to be learned.
“I” messages help with other people as well: Spouses, co-workers, neighbors, friends, clerks, educators and so on.
Beginning with ‘you’ immediately targets a person for blame in these negative instances. In positive instances, using ‘you’ is helpful.
“You were helpful in working with me to remove the rust; I appreciate that.”
Can you see how this might change how a child might feel afterward? Put yourself in their shoes. Which manner would you prefer?
Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.
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