I’m not sure why kids don’t want to talk to their parents. The following conversation seems to be universal for parents with kids.
Parent: How was your day?
Parent: What’d you do?
Kid: What’s for dinner?
End of conversation.
As a parent learning to ask the right questions is so important. Questions communicate what we care about. Questions dictate what is prioritized. Think about it. If no one asked you about certain things they would never get done. With a job, or in a family, some things get done because we know someone is going to ask us a question.
The key is to ask kids the right questions. Once you find the right questions it is like opening the flood gates. At least it is with the kids I interact with.
For a general rule of thumb specific questions equal details. General questions equal general answers.
My wife and I do this regularly with our kids.
I tested this out last week when we visited our kids’ school for lunch. When we showed up none of the kids were talking.
I started asking specific questions and before I left there were 6 kids who could not stop talking to me.
I started with a question that got me no where. I started with, “What is your name?” I received five kids’ names and not one asked for my name. It also didn’t lead to any other questions.
I then asked if they liked Paw Patrol. I got a quick, “No.” And that was it.
Then I asked TV shows do you like. This wasn’t a yes or no question. It was specific and it opened up the floodgates. From that point I heard about cartoons and how all the kids watch the TV Flash. That led to talking about Halloween costumes. That led to them asking me questions about what I liked.
One girl noticed I had a Star Wars t-shirt up and we started talking about Star Wars. One kid was so excited he couldn’t stay in his seat. He wouldn’t stop talking and he had to come to me to say it face to face.
So with my kids I spend dinner time asking specific questions.
When I ask how was your school day I get, “Good.” If I stop there that’s all I get.
So I ask specific questions.
Here are some examples.
- What was your favorite thing you did at school?
- What made you laugh?
- What made you sad?
- Who did you sit next to at lunch?
- What did you talk about at lunch?
- Your favorite part of school today was recess. What did you play at recess?
- Did anything make you feel scared?
- What surprised you today?
Not every specific question opens the floodgates. But eventually asking the right question opens up conversation. There are times where my kids couldn’t stop talking about school. All of those times came after specific questions.
I’ve also found that kids open up more when they are in the process of doing something else constructive. For example, during dinner is a great time to talk. Watching TV is an awful time to talk. Playing with legos or toys is a great time to talk. For my kids when they are drawing or coloring it’s an amazing time to talk. Finally bedtime seems to be a time where my kids talk.
If you have a hard time hearing anything but, “Good” from your kids don’t be discouraged. You are not alone. For one week try asking specific questions at dinner time and see what happens. It may take a little while, but I’m convinced the right questions lead to the right right conversations.
What have you done to help your kids communicate about their life? What other questions are helpful to get kids to talk?