Whenever you ask your child versus using fear as a way to control your child’s response, it encourages her to come up with problem solving. It allows her to think about the issue and answer for herself. It also gives her the freedom to express what she is doing through her creative mind.
Example 1: “What is wrong with you? You could get run over by a car!”
Solution: When the child/toddler is verbal, what could you do instead of scaring them into cooperating?
Let’s say your child just tried crossing the street without looking. Stating, “danger!” is good. Now what? After assessing that the child is safe from harm, this is where you can learn to become a questioning parent and ask your child a question that helps him come up with his own solution that avoids scaring him into doing what you want him to do.
For instance, instead of saying “What is wrong with you? You could get run over by a car!” you could ask, “Do you think it’s safe to not look where you are going?” and then await their answer. Then you could continue by asking, “What do you think could happen?”
You can also set a firm boundary by letting them know that you need to make sure their bodies are safe and need to hold hands.
Example 2: “What are you doing?” (in an upset or accusatory tone)
Solution: When children are constantly asked in a tone that sounds like you’re already accusing them of doing something “wrong,” it can lead to them feeling guilty and fearful of you. What would it take for you to be able to ask that very same question but in an inquisitive and gentle manner instead?