Socratic Parenting

I just noticed this morning how many questions I use with the kids when I’m redirecting and/or annoyed with them.

When they’re mindlessly mouthing random objects:

Is that food? Does it belong in your mouth?

Seeing their use of books as stepping stones across an otherwise clear floor:

Are books for standing on?

Through squalls of desire for the latest must-have object:

Would you like a timer?

This is how an object changes hands. Sometimes the have-not will be so worked up and angry about not getting it *now* that she’ll screech No! and the result (her sister gets it even longer) just ramps her further until her focus changes.

They have both reacted this way, but it’s the best thing I’ve figured out so far, and when no one’s overtired it works really well.

Natasha will occasionally give the object to Melody because of the melt-down, so she gets enough reinforcement to try each time. I don’t really want Natasha to be less generous, but I’d really like to quit feeding the fire.

When one comes to tell me brokenly (and usually loudly) of her sister’s insensitivity:

Have you told her that makes you unhappy?

When the other refuses to modify her behavior:

Would you like it if she did that to you?

This latest still means nothing to Melody, but Natasha seems to just begin to understand it. I’ve only said it a couple times, but she has looked cowed, obviously seeing it that way for the first time, and has usually changed her behavior.