I watch Gus from the opposite side of the table while he eats dinner with his fingers, picking a mushroom out from amongst the rice. “Gus, how many times? Please use your spoon.” I’m not angry, he’s four, this isn’t unusual behaviour. Still though, every tea time? Again he goes at the food with his fingers, this time selecting an olive. I sigh. Now a red square of pepper, still with fingers. “Please Gus, the spoon’s right in front of you.”
It’s only now after two times asking that I notice his spoon is tucked under the edge of his plate. From where he’s sitting he can’t see it. There is no spoon. I fish it out and put it on the plate, by his hand. He smiles a thank you smile and reaches past the spoon for another mushroom. I clear my throat and raise my eyebrows but mushroom travels relentlessly to mouth. I shake my head smiling at his determination. Gus picks up the spoon and finishes his dinner. Large spoonfuls of stroganoff disappear between cheeky smiles.
When I eventually supplied the right equipment the job got done properly. If instead of telling i’d questioned, if I’d asked why he wasn’t using his spoon, he might have told me that he didn’t have one.
Make it more likely you get the outcome you want by seeing the situation from the other person’s perspective.