Reflective Questions Reduce Stress

One of the keys to reducing stress between teachers/parents and youth is to ask the young person reflective questions during discipline situations. Recently, a teacher asked me, “What if the student refuses to answer any question you pose?”

Imagine asking someone multiple questions and the other person refusing to answer. That would surely result in increased stress. But rather than let this situation stress you out, you can overcome it by using two approaches: (1) Socratic dialog and (2) the Pygmalion effect. Here is what I mean:

1) Socratic dialog: Lead the person through a series of questions. In this case, use THREE questions—all of them prompting a “YES” response.

2) Pygmalion effect: Expecting the best from people can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

For example, if a young person is not answering any question you pose, you could try the following: “Do you think you are capable of making decisions?” “Do you care about how you live your life?” “Do you believe in yourself, as I believe in you, that you are capable enough to be successful?”

Don’t expect a verbal answer. Reflection is an internal process. So after you ask the three reflective questions, leave the student with something poignant to reflect upon, such as, “Give some thought as to where to start in order to reach your potential.”

This process will reduce stress, promote responsibility, and make discipline much easier.