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One of the most common complaints I hear from parents is, “My children don’t do what they are supposed to do. I have to tell them over and over again.” 

Well it was Albert Einstein who said that the definition of Insanity is ‘Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’!  And he was right!  If you continue to ‘tell’ your children what to do and aren’t getting the results you want, then you may need to adopt a different strategy.

Just to clarify, what I mean by the word ‘tell’ is someone who does some or all of the following: directs, advises, suggests, problem-solves, informs or controls.

Here is the good news! When we change what we do, our children will (slowly) change what they do.

Unfortunately, when we ‘tell’ too much, we unknowingly prevent our children from being resourceful and fulfilling their potential.

The consequences of ‘telling’ too much are:

  • Stifles your child’s ability to think and come up with their own solutions
  • They become reliant on you for answers – you are seen as the ‘fixer’
  • You overlook their ability to find their own answers
  • They don’t use their initiative – we stop them from ‘thinking’
  • Blocks their creativity
  • Lowers motivation and confidence
  • Prevents them learning how to problem solve

However, when you ask your children a question instead, you are saying that you believe in their potential.  You assume they are resourceful and you believe that they have their own answers, and that you don’t need to ‘know’ the answers for them. Their brain has to engage to respond and start its gears moving.

Asking great questions gives your children the Power to produce results by:

  • Creating a new thought –they have to stop and think
  • Offering a new perspective – a great questions can alter their perception of the problem
  • Stimulating answers and possibilities
  • Expanding their thinking, creativity and problem solving
  • Taking responsibility for their decisions
  • Engaging them in conversation which promotes confidence

Instead of continually saying every morning “Hurry up and get ready for school”, you could try “What do you need to do to be ready for school every morning by 8am?”.  This prompts them to come up with their own solution and take responsibility.

When we practice ‘asking’ instead of ‘telling’ we are doing more than teaching responsibility. We are also indicating a sense of faith and trust in our child that they can see and solve the problem. And this builds connection, trust and respect. 

Kathy Whines

Kathy Whines  

Kathy Whines is a certified Life Coach, Trainer, Mentor and mother who is passionate about coaching people, particularly parents about the potential and power in asking effective questions and how they can change our relationship with children // www.creativelearningcoach.com.au