Remember when our kids were younger and they did nothing but ask questions. They wore us out with the word “why.” They did it to get answers. It is now time to use the same tactic to get answers from them.
Our Kids Seem to Tune Us Out
As a family and life coach, many parents share with me that they can’t seem to talk with their kids. Their kids tune them out in favor of tuning in to their technology and the distractions of the Internet. The relationship suffers. So, like most parents, they get aggravated and do more telling and yelling to get their kids attention. Things don’t improve.
Think back to that power question these same kids used to always ask. They had it right – they needed to know and we had the answers. Now, they have information and we need answers. How else will we be able to guide, support and coach these same kids into discovering, developing and living what is best in them?
The question, “why” is your friend. It is the glue that will hold you and your kids together in a conversation. It will help you understand what they are thinking. It will teach them to have a perspective and own their decisions. “Why” is like gold to a parent.
How To Get Your Kids To Talk
- Notice how much you tell instead of ask. Simply becoming aware (stop and notice) that you are telling more than asking creates the possibility of changing it. You can’t change what you don’t know.
- Ask, don’t tell. For the next day, short of anything related to safety or something urgent, force yourself to ask a question (and not tell). Deliver a great and meaningful question (example: “What did you like about school today?”), then, whatever their response, launch into your power question “why.” For nearly everything you hear from your kids, simply ask “why.” Don’t overdo it, but you can see how this can help you get them to talk and be more involved.
- Be patient and listen for and to the answer. You have wisely used the ‘why’ question to get more information and perspectives from your kids. What you hear is just information. You can’t decide how to support and guide this fellow human unless you know what they are thinking. Look at them (no multi-tasking). Touch their shoulder, hair or arm. Listen impartially – you will shut off the supply of information if you react to everything they say. Talk to them, not at them. Show that you are tuned in and that they are the most important thing going on in this moment. Not only will you acknowledge them more profoundly, but you will be present to the information they are sharing. You need this information. It will help you decide what to ask, say or do next.
Who would have thought that we would be able to use that aggravating little question we heard morning, noon and night when our kids were discovering their world, with those same kids. Get good at asking questions, particularly “why.” Get good at listening and caring about the responses. Expand your conversations to help them see that you are just gathering information about their world, so you can help them show up as their best and greatest self. (BTW, asking questions, particularly ‘why,’ works great with employees, friends and everyone else.)