Do you state more than ask? Do your sentences to your children almost always end with a period rather than a question mark? If so, you might need to learn the lost of art of asking questions to build relationships (with your kids and others!).
Many years ago we were introduced to the concept of teaching like Jesus taught. We have since delved into that further, realizing that Jesus was not only a model of how to teach concepts to our children, but he was also the epitome of relationship building with people. This has helped us in our parenting and discipling of our children in general (not just in “teaching” or homeschooling).
Jesus used various types of teaching. This showed us that some kids need a certain type of instruction while others need something else. But there was one thing he did that every child needs—a parent who asks questions.
In Matthew 18:12, Jesus asked the question, “What do you think?” This has become a common mantra for our parenting/teaching. We have wanted to allow the kids to tell us what they already know or what they think—and then we could build on that. Asking open ended questions is a super method for academic training—and for heart training.
Asking questions is all the rage now in business building, counseling, relationship building, and more. It is, however, often overlooked as a way to get into our children’s hearts and minds.
I think this is in part because we tend to view questioning our kids as invasive—like they will think we are interrogating them or something.
Here are a few question asking tips for you:
1) Start young
I know…I say this about everything. But it is so true about everything!
In questioning our kids specifically, if we start asking them questions when they are very young, it will not seem suspicious when we really do need to interrogate sometime. 🙂
2) Ask open ended questions—like Jesus did!
We used a few key open ended questions with our kids:
a. What do you think?
b. How do you think he feels?
c. What ya thinkin’?
d. Penny for your thoughts (See the article on this here.)
3) Get your kids accustomed to your asking questions when they get home from somewhere or when you pick them up after an event.
Our kids thought something was wrong if we didn’t start asking them questions as soon as they got in the vehicle!
Sometimes we would ask general questions to get them talking (who was there, was it fun, what did you do, etc.). Other times we would say things like…”Details…I need details!” (They always loved this because it was really code for “I have as much time as you need..”).
We often ended with what contribution they made…who did you talk to, who did you help, how did you include people, etc. (You can ask questions and teach at the same time!)
4) Be sure there are lots of questioning times with no ulterior motives or lessons planned. (See When You Just Need to Listen here.)
Sometimes we just need to get them started talking. We don’t need to have ulterior motives to teach, instruct, or correct. We just need to get their words and heart flowing.
Asking questions is a great way to do this!
What questions do you ask your kids to get discussions going? How has question-asking helped your family?