What is an I-Statement?

December 12, 2017

A central part of social emotional learning is the “I-Statement" or "I-Message." An I-Statement is a communication tool that helps kids express their feelings during trickier moments. Having a go-to script provides a comfortable foundation that they can use when they may be experiencing difficult emotions. There are many variations of I-Statements, but I’ve always used the following in my 3rd grade classroom:

“I feel ____ when you ____ because ____. I would like you to ____.”




Some ideas for using and practicing I-Statements:


  • Introduce I-Statements during a time of peace and non-conflict. This gives kids the chance to practice when calm before accessing it during heightened emotions.

  • The “because” aspect may be hard for younger children. You may want to start without that part of the script and introduce it as the kids get more comfortable.

  • Try role playing with common conflicts that arise at home or in the classroom. It’s okay if the kids feel a little silly; they will still be more open to using I-Statements when actually necessary.

  • Try reading a book with a familiar conflict and ask kids what I-Statement the character could say to voice his/her emotions.

  • This is a great opportunity to use the Emotional Vocabulary list you’ve built with the kids! It can help them zero in on the emotion they are feeling and communicate it effectively.

  • Have a sign with the I-Statement script displayed where the kids will see it often. The more they get familiar with it, the more comfortable they will be to use it.

  • Try using an I-Statement yourself when upset in some way with the kids. You are their best role model and shows this is not a tool just for kids.

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