Rephrasing an Accusation into a Request

When you fire an accusation off at your children, you are likely to get a defensive response. People who feel they are being blamed, tend withdraw or get angry rather than engage in meaningful conversation.

Read these statements and think about how they make you feel:
  • You always yell and have a fit whenever you don’t get your way.
  • You never remember to feed the dog.
  • You’re too lazy to clean up your dishes!
How did they make you feel? Are you motivated to change your behavior? Probably not!

Now let’s rephrase these same statements into requests.
  • I feel irritated when you yell at me. If you’d like to do something different, please let me know using a respectful tone.
  • I’m frustrated that you don’t remember to feed the dog on your own. What can you do so that you can remember your chores without my reminder?
  • When you leave a mess in the kitchen, I feel angry. How can things change so that you remember to clean up when you’re done in the kitchen?
In this second set of statements, I’m focusing on how I feel about a specific behavior. I’m also requesting a change in that behavior.

By using a request instead of an accusation, you increase the likelihood of getting cooperation instead of resistance from your kids.

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