Do you notice that when you begin to talk, your teenager’s eyes glaze over?
And do you keep on talking?
It’s just soooo hard not to, right?
We just know that what we have to say is SO important. They need to hear it. And maybe…if we just say it one more time…or in a different way…they’ll get it/understand/change what they are doing. And yet…the more we talk, the less they seem to listen.
Think about it...By the time your kids are teenagers, how many things do you say to them that they have not heard from you…like a bazillion times already?
What is your goal when you talk to (lecture???) your teenager? Is it to get them to think or do what YOU want them to think or do?
OR do you want them to learn to think for themselves?
Sometimes we need to find out what kids already know, what they think, and how they came to those conclusions. The way to do that is to learn to ask questions…good questions. These are the kind of questions that come from “I’m curious about what you know and what you think. I don’t already know, but I’d like to.”
And then really listen to their answer.
The next question you ask should be to follow what they have said, not to try to lead them to a conclusion you want them to come to. This is a way that kids have an opportunity to explore their beliefs with you.
The main “rules” for asking questions are:
- If you know the answer, don’t ask the question. Don’t set kids up to lie to you by “giving them the opportunity to tell the truth.” Most kids won’t, if they think they can get away with it. (This does not mean that you ignore something that they have done, just that you address the issue without asking if they did it.) “We agreed that you would come straight home after school today and you went to the mall instead. These are the consequences…” Rather than asking, “What did you do after school today?”
- Stay curious. Don’t assume you know their answer. Don’t have an answer that you want them to give you. The point of asking questions is to get information– NOT to quiz them to see if they have listened to you and can remember something that you have told them.
So take the time to find out what your kids think, or know…or think they know. If you do this well, I guarantee it will be interesting.
(Next week we will talk about how to ask those REALLY GOOD questions so that your kids will talk to you.)
Want more tips and ideas? Check out “Upcoming Workshops” or “Problems with your teen?”