reminder to ask not tellWe don’t ask each other questions. Instead, we speak—sometimes tweet—statements at each other.”*

What response do we get when we assert our own ideas before we attempt to understand the other person? What tone does this set in our family relationships and in social settings?  Can children show us a better way?

Reminder #1: Questions form a bond

reminder to bondHaven’t we all answered a 3-year-old’s question, only to be asked and answered again—and again—and again? Finally it dawns on us that the child is bonding with us. The give-and-take of her Q &A session produces dialogue and dialogue forms bonds.

Reminder #2: Questions lead to self-awareness

I find that the “Would you rather…” questions work best with most kids. I get blank stares with general questions. For example, “Would you rather take piano lessons or painting lessons?” works better than, “What kind of lessons do you want to take?” in finding out how we can develop their innate talents.

Reminder #3: Questions strengthen critical thinking skills

Ellen Galinsky, author of Mind in the Making, suggests these questions: “What ideas do you have?” and “What do you think is happening here?” Respect responses whether you view them as correct or not. You could say, “That is interesting. Tell me why you think that.” Use phrases like “I am interested to hear your thinking about this.” “How would you solve this problem?”

Ask God questions

reminder of friendly worldChildren relate well to God when they form an image of a personal God, one who loves them, cares about them and knows them by name. I like to say “Let’s ask God about that and see how God answers us.” I do this with confidence because years ago I added question-asking to my own relationship with God. I began to hear the world around me with new ears and to see my environment with new eyes.

Through nonverbal cues and just plain acting out, kids remind us to ask them questions and provide them with choices.  

“It’s hard, because we live in a world that is perfectly comfortable with making statements. And perfectly uncomfortable asking questions.”– Douglas Estes, assistant professor at South University Columbia, SC

*Douglas Estes

Tweetable: Kids can keep us from working so hard to get our point across because they respond so positively when, instead, we ask questions and offer choices. A good practice with peers too. Click to Tweet