Sending I-Messages

Directions: Read each situation below, examine the You-Message below each situation and think of what your I-Message would be--or even grab a pen and paper and write them down. When you have finished, compare your I-Messages with those in the scoring key at the bottom of this page-and hey, no cheating! :)


  1. Mother wants to watch news. Child keeps climbing on lap. Mother irritated
  2. YM: "You shouldn't ever interrupt someone when she is watching the news."
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    "I can't see the TV and play too. I really feel irritated when I can't have a little while alone to relax and watch the news."

  3. Father using vacuum cleaner. Child keeps pulling plug out of socket. Father is in a hurry.
  4. YM: "You're being naughty."
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    "I am in a big rush and it really makes me angry to be slowed down by replacing the plug. I don't feel like playing when I have work to get done."

  5. Child comes to table with very dirty hands and face.
  6. YM: "You're not being a responsible big boy. That's what a little baby might do."
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    "I can't enjoy my dinner when I see all that dirt. It makes me kind of sick and lose my appetite."

  7. Child keeps postponing going to bed. Mom and Dad want to talk about a private problem of concern to them. Child keeps hanging around preventing them from talking.
  8. YM: "You know its past your bedtime. You're just trying to annoy us. You need your sleep."
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    "Mom and I have something very important to discuss. We can't talk about it when you're here and we don't like waiting until you finally go to bed."

  9. Child keeps pleading to be taken to a movie, but he has not cleaned up his room for several days, a job he agreed to do.
  10. YM: "You don't deserve going to a movie when you've been so inconsiderate and selfish."
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    "I don't feel very much like doing something for you when you don't stick to your agreement about cleaning your room."

  11. Child has been sulking and acting sad all day. Mother doesn't know reason.
  12. YM: "Come on now, stop this sulking. Either brighten up or you'll have to go outside and sulk. You're taking something too seriously."
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    "I'm sorry to see you be so unhappy but I don't know how to help because I don't know why you're feeling so blue."

  13. Child is playing stereo so loud it is interfering with conversation of parents in next room.
  14. YM: "Can't you be more considerate of others? Why do you play that so loud?"
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    "I feel kind of cheated. I want to spend some time with your father and the noise is driving us mad."

  15. Child promised to clean bathroom to be used for dinner party. During day she dawdled, now its one hours before the guests arrive and she hasn't started the job.
  16. YM: "You have dawdled all day and fallen down on your job. How can you be so thougthless and irresponsible?"
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    "I really feel let down. I've worked all day to get ready for our party and now I still have to worry about the dirty bathroom."

  17. Child forgot to show up at agreed upon time, She was to be home so mother could take her to buy clothes. Mother is in a hurry.
  18. YM: "You should be ashamed. After all, I agreed to take you and then you are careless about the time."
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    "I don't like it when I carefully plan my day so we can shop for your new clothes and then you don't show up."