How to Talk to Kids
Today’s the day I introduce the last of MPMK’s new contributors. I don’t know how I got so lucky as to find Andrea, Natalie, Kaley, Allison and now Kim to join the team but I’m smart enough to take what these lovely ladies are offering and not ask too many questions.
Today, Kim (a speech-language pathologist by day) is going to share with us the best ways to ask our kids questions. Didn’t know there was a right way? Well there definitely is – it’s the difference between making your littles feel like they’re on the spot and making them feel like they’re really being heard. This is important stuff when they’re small and becomes absolutely critical as they get older (and you’re dying to know what’s going on in their heads). So take notes now, while there’s still time!
As adults we ask children a ton of questions. Although questions can be a great way to find out about our kids, it’s crucial that we don’t just ask about what our kids know, but instead get to know our kids.
Of course all of us want our kids to know a lot, but getting to know our kids through the right questions allows us to follow their lead, tap into their intrinsic motivation, and help them pursue their passions.
Don’t ask too many.
Too many questions can make our kids feel like the pressure is on. Especially when our children are just beginning to talk. We tend to play with their language like a newfound toy, asking them to name things, think of animal sounds, and rattle off shapes and colors.
But we often can find out more about our kids, and not just what they know, by simply listening and watching them. If we can be comfortable with quiet and fewer (and smarter) questions, we actually give children space to tell us or show us what they want to share.
The simplest questions, like “how was that?” or “how’d that feel?” can be the most powerful questions you ask your child, because they build connection. From these questions you learn about your child and what motivates him. With these answers you can make him feel safe, help him find his interests and use those things to take learning to new heights.
Ask open-ended questions. They are a powerful tool for getting children to talk and share what’s on their minds and in their hearts. A question as simple as “I wonder what you liked about that story?” is a beautiful way to open the door for a conversation in a no-pressure kind of way. And, keep in mind as children get older and begin to ask YOU a lot of questions, you can encourage thinking by answering a question with a question.
We often think it’s important to teach our kids by giving them the right answer, but knowing the right answer isn’t as important as knowing how to find answers on their own. So instead of jumping in with an answer to “why is he doing that?” or “what is that for?” instead, you can respond with, “what do you think?”. By doing this you help your child build creativity and problem-solving skills, and also teach children that even as kids they can find answers to big questions.