Recognizing Ineffective Messages

Directions: Read each situation and the message sent by the parent. Then think of the reason why the parents message was not effective sending, using the following list of "sending errors":

  • Undershooting.
  • Blaming, judging.
  • Indirect message, sarcasm.
  • Sending solutions, orders.
  • Venting secondary feelings.
  • Name-calling.
  • Hit and run.

Here's an example of a situation and an ineffective message and then why the message was ineffective:

Example: 10-year old left open pocket knife on floor of baby's room. "That was so stupid. The baby could have cut herself."

Faulty Sending because: Blaming, judging.

Okay, ready? Look at each one below and determine the error and then compare your answers with the list/scoring key below.

  1. Kids fighting about which TV program to watch. "Stop that fighting and turn the TV off this minute."
  2. Daughter arrives home at 1:30 a.m. after agreeing to be in by midnight. Parent has been quite worried that something might have happened to her. Parent is relived when she finally arrives. "Well, you cannot be trusted, I see. I'm so angry at you. You are to be grounded for a month."
  3. Twelve-year-old left gate to pool open, endangering two-year-old. "What did you want to do? Drown your baby brother? I'm furious with you!"
  4. Teacher sent note home stating that 11 year old was doing too much loud and "filthy" talking in class. "Come in here and explain why you want to embarrass your parents with your dirty mouth."
  5. Mother is angry and very frustrated because child is dawdling and making her later for an appointment. "Mother would like for you to be more considerate of her."
  6. Mother comes in house and finds living room all messed up after she had asked kids to keep it clean for company. "I hope you both had a lot of fun this afternoon at my expense."
  7. Father is repulsed by the sight and odor of daughter's dirty feet. "Don't you ever wash your feet like other human beings? Get up there in that shower."
  8. Child is disturbing you because he is getting attention of your guests by turning somersaults. Mother says "You little show-off."
  9. Mother is angry at child because dishes were not put away after washing. As child is running off to school bus mother shouts: "I am very upset with you this morning, do you know that?"

Compare your answers with these:

  1. Sending solution.
  2. Blaming, judging. Venting secondary feeling. Sending solution.
  3. Blaming, judging. Venting secondary feeling.
  4. Blaming, judging.
  5. Blaming, judging. Undershooting.
  6. Indirect message.
  7. Indirect message. Sending solution. Blaming, judging.
  8. Name calling.
  9. Hit and run.