Feb 3, 2010

What is A Positive I-Message?

Positive I-Messages Enhance and Strengthen Relationships

One of the most enriching forms of self-disclosure is the Positive I-Message. These are messages that exclusively describe parents' positive feelings toward their children. Although kids do plenty of things that are a problem for parents, they also say and do many things that are a pleasure, often helping a parent in unexpected ways or displaying kindness, maturity, considerateness, or good humor just when it's needed most. When these behaviors occur, it is appropriate and important for parents to disclose any genuine positive feelings they have about them.

Unfortunately, many parents are only self-disclosing when they are upset their child's behavior. This is clearly appropriate self-disclosure, but the important point is that parents should disclose both their feelings of unacceptance and acceptance. Positive I-Messages that express appreciation, love, enjoyment, and affection toward children (spouse, friends, and others) can contribute greatly to warmer, closer, and more enjoyable relationships. Very young children, with their budding self-esteem and desire to be a "helper," seem especially to thrive on Positive I-Messages.

Consider the value for you, your children, or others in the following examples of Positive I-Messages:

"I really like the story you wrote, James."

"I was so proud when I heard you telling those kids you wouldn't lie to cover them!"

"Honey, I really love you."

It is important that Positive I-Messages not be used to manipulate or "shape" a child's behavior. Such ulterior motives invariably come through to the child and make your sincerity suspect. The Positive I-Message should be a "no-strings attached" expression of acceptance and acknowledgement.

Even though changing your child should not be the motive, parents who express a lot of positive feelings toward their children are often automatically rewarded with less unacceptable behavior, more trust, mutual respect and cooperation, more affection and caring. Like honesty, warmth and affection are highly contagious in families!*

Happy Positive I-Messaging!

*Excerpt from Dr. Thomas Gordon's P.E.T. Participant Workbook

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for commenting! - P.E.T.

Post a Comment