Thursday, June 30, 2011

Simple Wisdom from Josh

Simple {reflective} Questions

Josh and I continually have conversations regarding disciplining our children.  Josh is a Middle School Administrator, so he handles a lot of student discipline.  I think he's pretty special.  He's passionate about equipping children to make wise choices and reflect on their poor choices.  Through one of our most recent conversations, we talked through a tool that he uses with his students - that we are now using in our home.  It's been simple and effective, so I thought I'd share.

Basically, we are asking our children simple questions when they are in a bad spot or make a bad choice.

I wrote here about zero tolerance.  These simple questions give them a few minutes to snap out of the funk before they're excused from the "party".

The Questions: 
(all of these must be asked in a calm, non-emotional voice, no yelling, and no "non-verbals" either!)

Why are you doing that? or Why did you do that?
What do you need?  Can I help you?
What are/were you trying to accomplish?
How did that make you feel?
How did that make others around you feel?
What will you do differently next time?

This is how it has worked in our home:
The other day Sophie (7 years old) was flopping herself around on the couch and whining.

I calmly said:
"Why are you doing that?"
She immediately said, "I'm hungry."
I said, "Great!  Sit at the table and let's eat!"

The other evening, Halle (5 years old) was asked to clean up her room at bedtime.  She didn't.  Josh said, "You won't get to read books with us tonight."  She cried and cried.

I asked her:
"Why did you not clean up your room?"
"How does it make you feel to miss books?"
"What will you do differently next time?"

This simple questioning works great with our 5 and 7 year olds and encourages them to examine their behaviors and reflect on how it makes others around them feel.  They are able to thoughtfully answer the questions.  It also works for our 2 year old.

If Ian is whining or screaming, I'll calmly say:
"What is wrong?  Can I help you?"  Usually, he shows me and he's done screaming.  If not, I'll walk away.  If he continues to scream after I'm offering to help and console, he's removed from the "party".  Why?  Because screaming hurts my ears - and others around us.  You may not whine and scream.  Speak to me, and I'll help you.

The key to success: 
All of these must be asked in a simple, calm, non-emotional voice, no yelling, and no "non-verbals" either!

So, why is this "simple wisdom" from Josh?  Because it's simple!  Consistently calm.  Is our life absent of noise, trouble and hard work?  No!  But, I need tools to be the intentional Mother I want to be, and this has helped me!  So, I hope it helps you too.  :)

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