My method, such as I have one, is to keep doing the things that seem to work. One thing I find myself saying really often, in mid-scene, is, "Good girl!" It always seems to get a good response.
But, why is that? Just seeing the words written down, they feel like a paternalistic put-down, something last said at age 7. But we're not playing with age here. The subs I've played with are not into pet play or being minimized. Several over the years have commented on it themselves: "I wonder why I like it so much when you say that?"
I asked c the other day what it feels like to be called a good girl.
"This is so weird," she said, giggling. "Just hearing you say the words made my shoulders go back, made my boobs go up, and put a really big smile on my face!"
As it happens, her husband K had raised the same topic last week, she said. "He asked me whether I had any idea how my body reacted when he said, 'Good girl,' " c told me. "He says my eyes change, and my face relaxes."
c thinks it's a built-in approval-seeking desire that we all have, that's particularly strong in submissives.
"It makes me feel happy and proud," she said.
I've asked a few other subs about it. "It's not about my father," one said. "I disowned him."
"I'd never tolerate anyone else saying that to me," another one said. "But in the middle of a scene, it just makes me feel like I'm doing everything right."
The opposite phrase produces an equally opposite reaction.
"I'm not a bad girl," c says. "K can call me a naughty girl, or anything else, it makes me hot. But if he says, 'Bad girl,' I just freeze up."
I'll try to learn from that too.