Friday, May 25, 2012

Using the Power of Questions to Be in Charge

The power of questions can literally divert the brain's focus. A person who is thinking or acting in one direction can suddenly find himself/herself thinking in a totally different direction when hit with a question. An example of this happened not too long ago. My friend Patty and her son Payton stopped by for a visit. Patty and I were talking and just about the time they were going to leave, Payton had a normal, tired, two year old meltdown. I asked Patty if it was ok that I respond to Payton and then I asked him "Would you like to go smell my magic flowers?” Through tears and some hesitation, Payton responded “yes” with a nod. So I scooped him up walked him out my front door and we knelt down under my tree in the front yard. There I encouraged him to take a deep breath “smelling” the stem of a lily yet to bloom. After whispering to him some made up story about how magic flowers can help him to follow his mommy’s directions, he happily climbed into the car which was where she was trying to get him to go. I then stated to her that the secret was that I had him take some deep breaths “smelling” the flowers to calm down. Really I just asked him a question that diverted his thinking and behavior so he could calm himself down with some deep breaths.

Most things we say can be turned into a question, putting us in charge of the conversation. Here are some examples of changing commands or statements into questions:

Command: "You aren't going to use that tone with me young lady."
Question: "Am I the right person for you to use that tone with? Thank you."

Command: "If you don't do your homework, you're going to get a bad grade."
Question: "What kind of grade do you think you'll get without doing your homework?"

Command: "You are not going to have that cell phone if you don’t listen in class.”
Question: "What do you think will happen if you don’t listen in class?"

Command: "You guys better quit fighting over that remote control."
Question: "Have you guys thought about what might happen to the remote if you keep fighting over it?"

Command: "Quit that bickering!"
Question: "Hey, guys, what do you think is going to happen if that doesn't stop?"

Another example of using a question to change a situation happened when I was teaching. I witnessed a teacher go over to three young boys in the school bus line becoming rowdy. She told them to settle down but they didn't. A few minutes later a different teacher went over to sit with them and asked, "Hey guys. Which one of those Pokemon figures spits fire?" As you can guess, the entire scenario changed as these kids started answering and talking. No discipline was needed. A simple question made a huge change occur. The teacher took the time to use a question to take control of the situation and she was able to take charge without using any kind of order. And as a result, I’m sure the children felt like she cared about their interests and would be more likely to listen to her in the future.

About The Author:
Paula Tobey is a passionate parenting coach dedicated to helping her clients attain a more balanced and satisfied life. She tends to help those parents who have children with special needs or circumstances that can overwhelm them the most. Paula was also teacher/instructor prior to being a coach and her numerous years experience working with children and adults has enabled her to be an energetic speaker to varying audiences. Check out her website for many tips and tricks when parenting.

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