I originally posted this on our (mostly neglected!) blog, Education By Travel a on 2019-03-26. It was interesting to reread it (and realise that it still relevant to us now!) and so I thought I'd share it here:

I wanted to share something that just happened with our two-year-old, Leonardo, before I forget:

I was just in another room and heard Leonardo scratch his sister. She complained to him and then there was quiet.

A minute later, he comes into my room with a sad face, looking down to the ground all deflated.

I asked him what’s wrong and he said:


I said, “Have you been hitting Mina?”


“Why? I asked.


“What about the kitchen?”


“Mamma’s in the kitchen?”


“Is that why you hit Mina?”


“Because Mamma is in the kitchen?”


“So you hit Mina because you’re annoyed that Mamma’s in the kitchen?”


“Why are you annoyed that Mamma’s in the kitchen?”

“Park. Playground. Out!”

“Because you want Mamma to take you out to the playground?”

“Yes!” he ansered, enthusiastically.

“That’s why you hit Mina, because you’re annoyed at Mamma because she’s in the kitchen and not taking you out to the playground?”

“Yes!!” he says, smiling and cuddling me.

I called Simona in and recounted the exchange to her, whilst Leonardo stood there smiling away, swaying between her and I, cuddling us both, evidentally very happy that he had been understood.

It transpired that, earlier, Simona had said they were going to the park but had, for a few minutes, been replying to some messages on the phone in the kitchen.

Leonardo had gone to hug her leg (presumably to encourage her to get going out) but as she was a little distracted with finishing the messages he’d gone off to the lounge and ended up taking his frustration out on Mina by scratching.

I found this a really interesting example of the usefulness of asking questions of your kids to try to uncover the real reason for their behaviour.

It is something we have tried to do consistently (thanks to Simona’s suggestion) and have found that it can be powerful enough to avert tantrums (not every time, of course, but noticeably often).

So, whilst it was fresh in my mind, I wanted to share it and encourage you to consider trying to get past the surface behaviour of your child (a trantrum, refusal to do something, etc) to find out the underlaying cause which, as in this case, could be completely unrelated – though often rather obvious when it is spelt out!