There are questions we ask our kids which never get answered). And then there are the right questions. The fact of the matter is that there’s a magic way for asking questions kids want to answer. By asking questions, you can help your kids realise what they are feeling. Based on the type of questions you ask, you can even help boost your child’s emotional IQ.
Tips for asking questions kids want to answer
You always want to assume everything your kid says is true. This seems like a weird one, but kids have their version of a story, and if you call them on the truth too early they may feel you aren’t listening or taking sides.
For example: If your son is upset because his sister hit him, instead of responding with:
“I saw YOU hit her first.”
“Can you tell me a little more about what started the argument?”
The truth will eventually come out, but it’s more important to keep your son talking and calm him down so he can appeal to his logical thoughts.
OR If they were to say “John isn’t sharing with me.”
Instead of saying to John “why aren’t you sharing?”
“Okay, first tell me what type of game you were playing.”
Why asking questions kids want to answer is important
These few seconds where your child knows you are interested, but they need to answer a question, gives them a few moments to collect themselves and their emotions and think calmly.
Imagine you are playing detective, and the detective must pan out and see the big picture first before he starts drilling down into the details. By the time you ask about the item in question, your child will most likely will be calmer because they have been engaging their left brain for a while.
There are GOOD times and NOT-SO-GOOD times to ask questions.
A hungry, tired or distracted kid is NOT going to be in the mood to talk.
Use your parent intuition to find the RIGHT time to get the information you want.
If your kids have a fight and tension is high, ask questions right away.
BUT if your kid had something happen to upset him on the playground at school, he may not want to talk about it 2 minutes after picking him up. So you want to choose a time that’s relaxing for both of you.
Finding the right time is KEY.
When asking questions, it helps to take on relaxed attitude.
If at any time your child is going to feel like this is a Spanish Inquisition, they’re going to feel that you’re desperate and just shut down. Also, YOU want to ensure that you’re in a calm, receptive mood and untriggered when you don’t have a lot of things competing for your time.
But of course the goal is NOT to have your kids feel guilty or bad; you want to ask questions in a very unemotional, unbiased way, without any judgement from you.
Asking questions such as:
“How do you know Suzie was upset?”
“What made you think John was angry at you?”
“What did Mary’s face look like when she said she didn’t want to play anymore?”
Your child will begin to pick up on the subtleties of the behaviour of others. ALL the tiny physical cues, like a stance or a lip quiver, maybe it was an offhand remark. They’re going to start observing the minutest of actions in others. They will become astute to reading the conversation under the conversation.
So you want to use curiosity and interest as your guide. You want to watch your tone and body language for signs that your child might pick up on.