Unit 8.3 I-messages

In addition to learning how to compromise, school-age children are learning how to make friends and how to get along with others. This also includes learning how to respond when others mistreat them. You can coach children on how to tell others when they are not treating them well.

Teach the child to use “I-messages” to tell the other person:

  • what the person is doing that is bothering him
  • how the person’s behaviour makes him feel; and what he wants.

These steps do not have to be followed in any particular order. For example, a child can say “When you call me names I get angry and I want you to stop.” He could also say, “I get angry when you call me names so please stop.”

Practice using I-messages

Start by identifying your feelings- mad, sad, frustrated, etc.

I feel …

State the reason you feel this way or what happened that led you to those feelings.

When …

Try to identify the reason the person’s actions led to those feelings for you.


Let the person know what you want instead.

I would like…


  1. Byron’s brother Sam borrowed Byron’s favourite shirt without asking. What could Byron say to Sam using an “I” message?
  2. Will wants to copy Mike’s homework. Mike wants to say no, even though he let Will copy once before. What can Mike say to Will using an “I” message?
  3. Jessica heard that Anna is spreading a rumour that Jessica was one of the kids who trashed Todd’s artwork. What could Jessica say to Anna using an “I” message?