This is a magical question.

It is the best way to address bad behaviour…..whether the perpetrator is a child or adult.

It allows you the chance to let someone know what they did was wrong, without being judgmental.

It is a one-time get-out-of-jail-free card.

Hopefully without the jail.

If you run a support group or are a counsellor, it can be a great way to get people to think about change and negative cycles of behaviour.  Whether or not they know who “taught” them the behaviour (parent, teacher, sibling, etc.), it can open up a discussion about why we act the way we do.  Someone taught them it was okay (by demonstrating it or allowing it), but they were wrong.

Then you can begin talking about what IS okay and what that looks like.  You can forgive them and allow them to forgive themselves….because it is likely they were acting without thinking.

But once they acknowledge it, they cannot go back.

As Maya Angelou wrote, “When I knew better, I did better”.

Get them to practice the new behaviour…..one that is both confident and kind.

This question should work for teachers, counsellors, parents, co-workers, coaches, social workers, friends, family…..

Just be prepared.

You might ask “Who taught you that was okay?”

And they might answer: “You.”

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