Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Talking It Out: I Messages

Talking it out is one of the hardest ways to solve our conflicts.  It takes patience and a calm demeanor.  Starting out with the word "You" creates blame, defensiveness, and often causes the listener to ignore you.  We spoke about how each person needs to explain their side while the other listens, then switch.  This choice will only work if the two are willing to listen to each other.  "I Messages" are powerful when you have good eye contact and use the name of the person to gain their attention.

In 4 easy steps, students can let others know how they are feeling, what behavior is bothering them, what they want to happen, and use manners to solve the problem.  Here you can download my template, I Message.

Wrong Way to talk it out: "You interrupted me! You never let me talk!"
Correct Way to talk it out: "I feel frustrated when you interrupt me because I want to share what I'm thinking.  Can you please stop?" 

The benefits to using "I Messages" are that it creates healthy boundaries, improves communication, and works for any age (even adults!).  An "I Message" clearly states that you own your thoughts and feelings - other people do not control your thoughts and feelings, and I do not control their thoughts and feelings.  Communication improves because you prevent the person you are talking to from being on the defense.

In second and third grade we role played the incorrect way to solve a problem and the correct way using an I Message.  Some problems we acted out were: someone is throwing eraser pieces at you, there's a pencil found on the floor and 2 people go to pick it up at once, someone keeps chasing you at recess and yelling out your name, a classmates is whispering to you when the teacher is giving instructions, someone keeps kicking your desk when you're trying to work, someone cuts in front of you in line.

In first grade, students made their own Kelso puppets to help solve problems by talking it out.  Some problems we practiced with our puppets were: the person in front of you is fooling around at the pencil sharpener and won't let you have a turn, a student is following you around at recess copying what you do, a friend won't let you play with them at recess, a friend takes your scissors and won't give it back, a classmate cuts in front of you in line.



  1. Hello! I love this, and love your blog!! I was wondering if you happened to also have a downloadable copy of the Empathic Response Poster set? I am already using the I message set- thanks so much!! :)

    1. I don't unfortunately! I accidentally deleted it so I have a few hard copy posters that are laminated that I utilize. :( So sorry!

  2. Do you have the link to the paper to make the kelso puppet? I have an old version of Kelso's choice and it doesn't include this. My students would love it!

    1. Aww I don't have a digital copy, but I bet if you ask around your district someone probably has an updated kit with the template in it. Sorry!