open-ended questions are the right questions
At our house, we learned to ask the right questions over dinner. That’s because we learned we would get no answers if we didn’t ask the right questions.
Young children are quick to answer questions when asked. They believe in hide nothing-tell all if they feel safe. Older kids – teenagers and older – keep their answers close to the chest. When a person asks a question that can be answered with a “yes” or “no”, you can be certain that is how they will answer your question.
Stop asking the wrong questions. Instead of asking, “How was school today?” ask a different question. Rather than saying, “Tell me about school today,” ask a question. Use the right questions, and you’ll (usually) get some answers. Change the questions so they can’t just grunt “Okay” when you ask about school or about work.
Some right questions to ask
The questions we ask tell our kids what matters most to us. The right questions let our kids know what our true focus is for them and for ourselves. These questions are related to school, but you can switch them up if you’ve got an older teen who has a job.
Don’t ask WHY. Sometimes “Why” can make a kid feel defensive. When a child tells you his favorite subject is math, instead of asking “Why math?” start with the right question. “What makes math so interesting to you?”
Ask WHAT. These questions focus on the character and hearts of our kids instead of academic accomplishments.
- What was the most fun part of your day?
- What made you sad today?
- What did you do to help a lonely classmate feel loved?
- What did you do to show your teacher respect today?
- What are some things you can do tomorrow to help that kid who keeps getting picked on know that you care?
- What was the hardest thing you had to do today?
- What can you do today (or tomorrow) so that you won’t feel so stressed about your next spelling test (since today’s test did not go well)?
- What do we need to do to get ready for school tomorrow so we won’t have that last minute rush like we did this morning?
at the end of the day
At the end of the day, our focus should be on developing character in our kids instead of just their grades, sporting events, or club activities. The questions we ask showcase our hearts, and our kids will know what matters most to us.
Asking the right questions helps us as parents zone in on our values and helps us stay focused on what matters most. Using the right words showcases our core values to our kids. That’s when we know we are asking the right questions.
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