Teaching our Kids to ask Effective Questions by Jeff WilliamsAug 6th, 2009 | By Jeff Williams | Category: Family Coaching Center Guest Posts
“What are you doing, dad?” Carly asked. I’d been out of town for almost a week. She asked for the phone from her mom. I was happy she wanted to talk. We’d had a few good conversations during my trip, but this wasn’t one them because I simply responded to her question and it frustrated her. She wanted to know more, but didn’t know how to ask. Instead of considering the question behind her question, I answered simply, and put the ball back in her court to ask another question. Hindsight left me feeling bad about the exchange. I could have seized the opportunity to teach her to ask sharper questions. I know it was in her heart, but the skill was missing.
– What are you doing?
– How was your day?
– What are you going to do today/tonight?
From the perspective of a coach trainer, these aren’t the most powerful questions, but they’re often the questions I hear from my children. I know they’re trying to make conversation. How can I keep it going? And how can I help them to ask more specifically what they want to know.
This is where Holy-spirit guided intuition and discernment come in.
Let’s reach a bit deeper for the questions behind our kids questions to consider how we might cultivate the conversation and teach effective asking in the process.
– What are you doing? What might she want my daughter want to know?
1. Literally what I am doing at that moment.
2. What I am getting ready to do.
3. What I have been doing and how I feel about it.
4. What I want to do or would rather be doing.
Those are some of my best guesses. How could I know for sure? I could ask her, of course, or I could volunteer a bit more as a gesture of good-will for her effort to have a conversation. “Carly, what are you curious about?” Now there’s a potentially effective question that might sharpen her questions. “What are you wondering about my trip and what I have been doing?”
Another effective to teach effective asking to our kids is to model. Granted, their desire to share their thoughts, feelings and desires goes up and down according to normal adolescent mood fluctuations, but at least we can try. At our dinner table and in our family room it is pretty clear how far we’re going to get in conversation after the first few questions. But even when they aren’t especially in the mood to share much, we can try, and so communicate love through our interest.
Coaching skills applied to relationships is largely about effectively opening each others hearts and then holding their responses. In a word, this is love in action by giving interest and receiving others honest thoughts, feelings and desires. As our children move through adolescence to adulthood, and as they have more freedom to choose what and when to share their lives with us, I think that it is more likely that we will have a quality connection that we both want as we ask and listen to each other more effectively.
Copyright 2009 Jeffrey J. Williams | Grace & Truth Relationship Education | Germantown | MD | 20876 301.515.1218, Jeff.GTRE@gmail.com