Self-disciplined people make a point to think before they act or speak. They think about where each particular choice will lead—to something positive or negative. They think ahead to see if they are going to be satisfied with the consequence that a particular choice will bring. If they are satisfied, they go ahead in that direction. If not, they think again and choose to act or speak differently—in a way that will bring a consequence that they can more happily accept.
So, how do you help a child become more self-disciplined? The key is to hone the skill of asking reflective questions—questions that prompt the child to think. It’s not necessary for the youngster to tell the parent what the thoughts are. It’s enough just to pose the questions.
If you ask a question in a calm way, the youngster will think about it—even if the child will not admit a mistake or share thoughts with you. In fact, it’s even a good idea to say, “You don’t need to tell me what you’re thinking. That’s not so important. What is important is that you be honest with yourself.”
Here are some examples of reflective questions that are great for starting a conversation:
- “What was most pleasing for you today?”
- “What bothered you the most today? How did you deal with it?”
- “What was your biggest challenge today? How did you deal with it?”
- “If the situation comes up again, what will you do?”
- And here’s the “golden question”: “What do you think?”
What is your favorite reflective question to use?