Getting Curious - Rather Than Defensive
Oct 08, 2019
When we know the "why" behind a behavior, we can respond better, smarter and more effectively to what's going on around us. When we get defensive to a behavior or response we are not expecting, we shut down the learning. Getting defensive is easy. It's our natural fall back response. Learning the "why" is much more difficult. It requires we stop. Take a second. And get Curious.
When we respond to a child's struggles with curiosity, we are learning. Learning the "why" behind a behavior. We are showing interest, teaching respect, and proactively parenting.
The best part about this proactive strategy is that it's really easy. Like really easy. You just ask "why" and then you listen. That's it. After you learn the why, then you can better come up with a way to respond.
Let's practice. Think of a time or setting when things are extra chaotic. Dinnertime around my house can get chaotic and my child will usually take advantage of this chaos by assertively proclaiming that he isn't eating dinner. It will go something like this: After dinner is finally on the table and everyone is hungry and gathering around. My child takes a good look at his plate, pushes it away, looks at me, and says "I'm not eating this." Yipes....And my first thought is typically a defensive response. Something like, "Stop it. You're being rude. Eat your dinner." But that won't get us anywhere, except a power struggle with both of us getting frustrated.
Let's try getting curious instead. Here's some options:
You could address the eating: "You said you're not eating dinner. Why are you not eating dinner?"
You could address respect: "I don't like when we are rude to each other. I'm confused about why you're being rude?"
You could go straight to addressing the solution: "Help me understand how you're going to get your tummy full if you don't eat?"
The key here is being CURIOUS. You can be curious and kind. You can be curious and respectful. You can be curious and firm. This technique also gives you a second to think about how you want to respond.
You're on your way to raising children we'll all be proud of as adults.
Maylin Griffiths, Ph.D.