Using “I” Statements to Navigate Sibling Rivalry and Tantrums

In the midst of sibling rivalry and tantrums, communication can easily become heated and unproductive. “I” statements can be a powerful tool for navigating these challenging situations and fostering healthy communication between siblings.

What are "I" statements?

“I” statements are a way of expressing your feelings and needs without placing blame or judgment on others. They focus on your perspective and avoid accusatory language, which can often escalate conflict.

Here's how to use "I" statements for sibling rivalry and tantrums:

Start with “I”:

Instead of starting your sentence with “you”, which can sound accusatory, begin with “I”. This takes ownership of your feelings and avoids placing blame on your child.


  • “I feel frustrated when you snatch the toy without asking.”
  • “I’m feeling hurt when you call me names.”
  • “I’m worried about you when you yell and scream.”

 Express your feelings clearly and calmly:

Clearly state the emotions you’re experiencing without exaggerating or becoming overly emotional.


  • “I feel angry when you hit me.”
  • “I’m feeling sad when you leave me out of the game.”
  • “I’m feeling overwhelmed when you’re both crying at the same time.”

Describe the behavior that triggered your feelings:

Briefly explain the specific behavior that led to your emotional response.


  • “I feel frustrated when you interrupt me when I’m talking.”
  • “I’m feeling hurt when you ignore me and only play with your friend.”
  • “I’m feeling overwhelmed when you both fight over the same toy.”

Express your needs or desired outcome:

Instead of demanding a specific action, express your needs or desired outcome in a positive way.


  • “I need you to listen to me when I’m talking.”
  • “I would like it if you would include me in your games.”
  • “I need you both to calm down so we can figure this out together.”

Here are some additional tips for using "I" statements effectively:

  • Speak in a calm and respectful tone: Avoid yelling or using accusatory language.
  • Focus on the present moment: Don’t bring up past offenses or unrelated issues.
  • Be mindful of your body language: Maintain eye contact, use a soft tone, and avoid crossing your arms.
  • Be patient: It may take time for your children to learn and adapt to using “I” statements.
  • Model the behavior: Use “I” statements yourself when communicating with your children and others.

By utilizing “I” statements, you can create a more peaceful and respectful environment for your children to communicate their needs and resolve conflicts constructively. This can lead to improved sibling relationships, reduced tantrums, and a more harmonious family dynamic.


Remember, communication is a two-way street. Encourage your children to use “I” statements as well to express their feelings and needs. This will help them develop healthy communication skills and build stronger relationships with each other.

How Dr. Sumeet Dhawan Can Help:


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