What was your gut reaction to that email header?
Did it automatically make you feel defensive? Like I was attacking you?
What if I had phrased the question differently?
Perhaps something more like: What happened that you didn’t open last week’s email? I’m curious.
There is a fundamental difference between asking someone why they didn’t do something as opposed to asking what happened that you
weren’t able to do it.
One has you playing offense, and the other shows you are genuinely curious.
When faced with the question – why did you hit your brother? Why did you come late?
There is no good answer that the now defensive child can give that can be productive.
When you ask a child – What happened that you hit your brother? What happened that you came late? You are setting the stage for a discussion that he can engage in honestly, with his defenses down. A conversation that shows him that you care about him and his intentions, and not just about the action that he did.
This awareness and slight change in wording and tone can help diffuse tense situations and give you a chance to show your child that you care and want to know more about his thoughts and emotions.
These situations come up so many times a day. Try this technique when the next one comes up and let me know if it made a difference! It changed my life.
Note: Our children are wise and see beyond false words. Try to really be curious and not just ‘talk the talk’.