14.2.1  Asking checking questions

Checking questions find out what a mother has learned. A checking question must be phrased so that the mother answers more than ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Good checking questions require that she describes why, how or when she will give a treatment.

Knowing how to ask a good checking question is an important communication skill. Good checking questions begin with question words, such as why, what, how, when, how many, and how much. Poor questions, answered with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’, do not tell you how much a mother knows. Some examples of good and poor checking questions are given in Table 14.1.

Examples of good checking questions are:

  • What foods will you give your child?
  • How often will you give them?

After you ask a question, pause. Give the mother a chance to think and then answer. Do not answer the question for her. Do not quickly ask a different question. Wait for her to answer. Give her encouragement.

Table 14.1  Examples of good and poor (leading) checking questions.
Good checking questionsPoor checking questions

  How will you prepare the ORS solution?

  How often should you breastfeed your child?

  Do you remember how to mix the ORS?

  Should you breastfeed your child?

If you get an unclear response, ask another checking question. Praise the mother for understanding correctly, or clarify your advice as necessary.

If the mother answers incorrectly or says she does not remember, be careful not to make her feel uncomfortable. Give more information, examples or practice to make sure she understands. For example, you could teach her again how to give a treatment, then ask her some more good checking questions to be confident that she understands what to do. Box 14.2 summarises the key points you need to remember when checking whether a mother understands information you’ve given her or how to carry out a particular treatment.

Box 14.2  Important points in checking understanding

When checking the mother’s understanding:

  • Ask questions that require the mother to explain what, how, how much, how many, when, or why. Do not ask questions that can be answered with just a ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
  • Give the mother time to think and then answer.
  • Praise the mother for correct answers.
  • If she needs it, give more information, examples or practice.

Sections 14.3 to 14.5 below describe the application of good communication and counselling skills in different cases or classifications.

14.2  Checking the mother’s understanding

14.3  Teach/advise the mother to give oral drugs at home