This week, I am working with 2nd and 3rd grade students on using words to solve conflicts. Here at Armstrong, we use a technique called an “I feel” statement. It is a strategy for verbalizing our feelings in a non-confrontational way. An “I feel” statement looks like this:
I feel __________ when you ____________. I would like you to ____________.
- In the first blank, put the feeling you are experiencing.
- In the second blank, put the action of the other person that has caused you to feel this way.
- In the third blank, put what the other person can do differently to solve the problem.
3rd grade students also talked about the role of the listener. When someone is angry or upset with us and uses an “I feel” statement, the most important thing we can do is show that we listened. This is even the case when we disagree with what they are saying. To show we heard them, 3rd grade students are being taught “You feel” statements. They look like this:
You feel _________ when I __________. You would like me to _____________.
As part of the lesson, students were asked to create “I feel” and “You feel” statements they could use in response to sample conflict situations. You can try this strategy at home. When your child is feeling angry, sad, or frustrated at a sibling or peer, encourage them to use “I feel” and “You feel” statements. And if they find it useful, encourage them to post a comment in response to this blog post sharing their experience. Learning from each other is one of the best ways to grow as a community. We will also continue to practice this strategy over the next few lessons.
Two important reminders:
- An “I feel” statement is one tool a child can use to solve conflicts with peers. It will not solve 100% of their problems. If a child has worked hard to verbalize their feelings and is not experiencing success, this is often a great time for an adult to step in and help.
- The more neutral their tone of voice, the better chance the strategy will work. We have already talked about using relaxation strategies (taking three deep breathes, counting to ten, thinking of something that makes you especially happy) when you are upset. Using these, or even just walking away and waiting to solve the problem, can be helpful for calming your body down before talking to a friend or sibling.
Thank you for your help supporting this important lesson.
School Counselor, Armstrong Elementary School
PH: (508) 836-7760 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org