With Discipline, Your Questions Matter

One of the key concepts of the Discipline Without Stress book and approach is to ask reflective questions. Always remember, though, that “why” questions are not reflective and often will not curb the discipline problem you are trying to correct.

So, what’s wrong with “why” questions, especially when trying to discipline a youngster? “Why” questions have an accusatory overtone. They also block communications because such questions prompt negative feelings.

Let’s prove the point. Say the following question out loud so you can hear yourself:

“Why are you doing that?”

Notice that when you asked this question, your voice pitch rose higher and your volume increased. Also, notice the effect on your emotions when you asked this “Why?” question.

Now, say the following out loud so you can hear yourself:

“What do you think we should do now?”

Notice that the emotional aspect was reduced because the aim was toward a resolution, rather than on the cause. The cause could have merely been a mistake or an accident—something that happens to adults as well as to young people. If you believe it was a mistake, you will address the problem differently than if you had believed that the person intentionally misbehaved.

“Why” questions may work in business mishaps when you’re trying to find out where in the process something broke down, but such questions do little to help in human relations and communications.