Play Therapy Interventions

Teaching I-Statements

I have mentioned before that I personally use a combination of directive and non directive play therapy in my work as a therapist. One thing that I love to do in directive play therapy is teach about assertive communication and i-statements.

It is so easy for kids and adults alike to be aggressive or passive communicators. Aggressive communication is demanding and can come across as quite mean. An example of this would be “I hate you,” “You stink,” and other hurtful statements. On the other end of the spectrum is passive communication. An example of this would be not speaking up at all when something is bothering you.

We want to encourage our clients (and ourselves…) to be assertive communicators. This includes kindly and directly letting our thoughts and feelings be known and what we would like to change.

A great way to teach assertive communication is through i-statements. An i-statement is:

“I feel                             



Next time can you please                                    


Here’s an example of how to use an i-statement:

“I feel upset

When you call me names

Because it hurts my feelings and is unkind.

Next time can you please keep your comments to yourself?”

I’ve included a list here of situations that would require an i-statement. You can use these to practice assertive communication with your own clients.

  • You lose your favorite toy
  • Your best friend ignores you
  • You get to have ice cream for dinner
  • You are pushed by a peer at school
  • You go into a Haunted House
  • Your friends at school don’t let you play with them
  • You see your best friend being called a name
  • Your sibling changes the channel from your favorite TV show
  • You get a new puppy
  • Your parents tell you “No”
  • You get grounded
  • You see a peer cheating off of your work
  • Everyone is singing “Happy Birthday” to you
  • You get called on by the teacher
  • You get called down to the principal’s office


That being said, I do generally work with the early childhood population. I have found that I have needed to make certain modifications for i-statements in particular that best help them understand and succeed with the concept. To do this, I have created a simple i-statement worksheet that can be used with itty-bitty clients! Click HERE for your FREE I-Message Worksheet
Play on!



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