The ‘ask not tell’ technique that wins at parenting


Everyone has been through the most difficult year and parents have had it harder than most working from home together with home-schooling. Everyone’s levels of anxiety have risen and both children and parents until recently have been attending meetings or classes on Zoom. Screen time, which perhaps was once regulated, has had to happen in order for parents to even continue to work.


As parents we believe we have to support our children, teach them the correct thing to do and often turn ourselves inside out trying to fix things. The skills I teach are counterintuitive. I even tell you the words to use.

Instead of heaving a sigh of relief when your child does as you wish and get on with something of your own, I want you to notice and Descriptively Praise your child for all the things you secretly believe they should be doing anyway. This increases cooperation.

Reflective Listening helps children feel heard and understood and doesn’t entail any fixing. If anything I support you to help your child find their own solutions to their problems even giving wishes in fantasy as children love humour.

ASK not Tell.  The visualisation skill I use lasts less than a minute, happens at a neutral time and uses journalists’ open-ended questions. When children answer your simple questions rather than being lectured at, the answers are stored in their long term memory and they actually remember to do the things you’ve been constantly nagging them to do,to no avail.


Instead of reassuring children I reduce their anxiety by using several of these skills so they feel empowered by knowing how to react in a difficult situation. Bright children have vivid imaginations so by helping them know what to do through these little questions they feel more in control and able to handle situations better.

Everyone knows that children love being with one parent at a time. Much of children’s bad behaviour is actually to gain even your negative attention so I will introduce special time half an hour at weekends with each child on their own and ten or fifteen minutes once a week.

Using a combination of these skills you can and will achieve a more peaceful, happier home.

You will no longer need to pray each night not to shout tomorrow. It can and does work. Ask and I will tell you how.


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