Tired of Telling Your Child What to Do?

If you are like me, I often found myself barking orders rather than asking questions. Have you ever thought about asking questions instead of giving directives? There are 5 good reasons to ask questions:

  1. It helps our kids think. When we tell them what to do, our child does not have to use their decision-making skills and will often tune us out. But when you ask questions, our child has something very important to do…THINK! Stop reading for a moment and imagine yourself being a child with your parent (I know this sounds weird but do it anyway!)  Your parent begins to bark orders at you to “put your clothes away.” What do you feel like doing or saying? Now imagine your parent asking in a friendly tone of voice, “Where do your clothes belong?” Now how do you feel and what do you feel like doing? You feel more like cooperating, don’t you?
  2. It helps them to problem solve. For example, if your child spills the milk and you say, “Clean that mess up,” your child doesn’t have to learn how to solve the problem….you do! So instead you ask, “What do you think you could do about this problem?” Or you could ask, “How would you do that differently next time so the milk doesn’t spill?”
  3. They are learning good judgement. If your child answers, “We can let the dog lick up the milk!” You can say, “That’s an idea! How will the germs get off the floor?” Now they are learning sound judgement and the ability to think through situations.
  4. Your child learns cooperation. There is a cooperative dynamic that occurs when you ask questions. When you give a directive, children don’t feel like cooperating.
  5. Your child learns to take initiative. When you make a demand…you are having to take initiative. When you ask a question, your child does. (By K. Kvols)

Parenting Practice:
Next time you are tempted to bark a command, stop and change it to a question. Then take note on the response you get. Make sure your tone of voice is truly coming from curiosity instead of sarcasm!
(Kathryn Kvols, Director of International Network for Children and Families and writer of Redirecting Children’s Behavior

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