Imposing consequences often invites rebellion and defensive thinking instead of explorative thinking. The key to helping children explore is to stop telling and to start asking curiosity questions.
Too often adults tell children what happened, what caused it to happen, how the child should feel about it, what the child should learn from it, and what the child should do about it. It is much more respectful and encouraging when we ask what happened, what the child thinks caused it, how the child feels about it, what the child has learned, what ideas the child has to solve the problem, or how the child can use what she has learned in the future. This is the true meaning of education, which comes from the Latin word educare’, which means to draw forth. Too often adults try to stuff in instead of draw forth, and then wonder why children don’t learn.
Watch this video for examples of Asking vs Telling.
Typical curiosity questions:
- What were you trying to accomplish?
- How do you feel about what happened?
- What did you learn from this?
- How can you use what you learned in the future?
- What ideas do you have for solutions now?
The following guidelines will help when using curiosity questions:
- Don’t have an agenda. You aren’t getting into the child’s world if you have an agenda about how the child should answer these questions. That is why they are called curiosity questions.
- Don’t ask questions if either of you are upset. Wait until you are both feeling calm.
- Ask curiosity questions from your heart. Use your wisdom to show you how to get into the child’s world and show empathy and acceptance.