How to Ask Questions So Children Want to Answer

WindowGood conversations are like windows; they help us see and be seen.

Conversations with your child create heart-to-heart connection. You get to learn what your child feels and thinks and what she experiences away from you. Your child gains confidence and develops a deep sense of value when mom and dad want to hear what he has to say.

But many children aren’t natural-born talkers. Often they need to be drawn out and encouraged.

So we ask questions. We’ve all experienced the “How-was-your-day?” “Fine” syndrome, however, and wondered why our child doesn’t want to tell us more.

We need to be using open-ending questions instead of questions that can be answered with just one word, especially yes and no, fine, nothing, and OK.

Open-ended questions don’t have right or wrong answers. Instead they invite children to share, to think, and to problem solve. When you ask a child an open-ended question, he feels important to you and feels that his response is important to you. He thinks about the question to express his ideas.

In addition, young children need questions that are more specific than general.

So instead of “Did you have fun at school today?” try:
“Tell me about the game you played at recess.”
“I wonder what you had for lunch today.””What was hard about your day?”
“Tell me what was happy about today.”

Reading books and watching TV shows or movies offer many opportunities for open-ended questions:
“What do you think is about to happen?”
“Do you think there is another way to ______ ?”
“If you were _____ , what would you do?”

Pay attention to your child’s interests and problems and ask questions about those too:
“Tell me about your drawing.”
“Tell me what you like about tae kwon do.”
“What do you think might happen if you _____ ?”

Open-ended questions usually start with How, Tell me, What, Where, When, or Why.

It might take some time to learn to use open-ended questions, and time for your child to get used to hearing them and begin to engage with you. Be patient. As you build respect for their thoughts and answers, children want to respond!

Bedtime can be a good talk time. To celebrate the release of my new book, Words to Dream On: Bedtime Bible Stories and Prayers, I’m doing a different giveaway here on my blog each week in February! The winner of last week’s giveaway is Linda Moffitt. Congratulations!

SmallWTDOTHIS WEEK’S PRIZE: An autographed copy of Words to Dream On plus a copy of Tuck-Me-In Talks, by Grace Fox. Inside you’ll find dozens of topics and open-ended questions that are sure to start some great conversations!

Tuck-Me-In-Talks-with-Your-Little-OnesThe giveaway begins now and ends Saturday, February 21, at 11:59 PM Eastern Standard Time. Winner must live within the continental United States.

To enter the giveaway, just leave “I’d love to win” as a comment below OR sign up for my quarterly newsletter (use the box at the left).

Winner will be announced in my post on Monday, February 23.

– Diane

12 Responses to “How to Ask Questions So Children Want to Answer”

  1. Reply Christine Smyth

    I’d love to win but even if I don’t, I’m going to buy “Tuck Me in Talks” by Grace Fox!

  2. Reply Rita chevarella

    I’d Love to Win! Going to be a First time Grandma this Just. So Very Happy! PRAISE the LORD. P.S. I hope you get my mailing address this way. Just learning to Blog. Thanks again, Rita. ( July)

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