We all want to have awesome conversations with our kids. The kinds of conversations that invite us to learn about their hopes, passions, and fears. Sweet, tender moments when we have a chance to relate to the people they are becoming and share a bit of what we have learned. As our kids enter the tween years the once delightful little kid conversations give way to monosyllabic grunts and whole sentences seemingly void of consonants. Tragically, this is happening just when kids are entering adolescence and becoming passionate, original thinkers with really incredible insights and innovations to share.
When discussions of brain development come up, you often hear the phrase, “What fires together wires together.” Learning to use open ended questions and creating routines that facilitate conversation certainly allow for better discussions and relationships. The added brain-development bonus is that these kinds of conversations also help wire the brain for more insightful and empathetic observations. Win win! It doesn’t have to be verbal. Passing notes, a kitchen chalkboard, and journals all support the same development of insight and lead to more verbalization when the time is right.
Here’s a list of questions to experiment with. You can try these on for size or play with phrases like, “Tell me more about that…,” or, “I’m curious what you think about…” Also, side by side moments like a car ride are often better opportunities than a face to face conversation.
There are only two tried and true rules to follow: avoid questions that can have one word (or grunted) answers; and avoid the word “why,” which tends to feel like a challenge or conflict.
- What activities seem exciting and thrilling to you?
- What do you see friends doing that you think you might want to try, but you’re not sure how to make it safe?
- Which people make you feel your best and which make you feel less?
- Who can you be authentic or real with?
- What do you feel passionately curious about?
- What problems in the world do you feel uniquely suited to solve?
- Roses and Thorns, Peaches and Pits types of discussions at the same time every day.
- What was your Joy, Peace, and Inspiration today?
- Describe an unexpected joy, delight, surprise.
- Describe someone who inspires you.
- Share something that went well, went sideways, went wrong.
- What brings you hope?
- How do you handle things when they don’t go your way?
- On what subject do you need to gather more data?
- Describe a situation when you thought it went well, but someone else thought it went poorly.
- What does love look like?