Kowing you better, Parents/Kids Edition – 250 questions and challenges for parents to start an exciting conversation. It is designed for parents who want to know their children better, to strength the trust in the relationship with their children and to open their children’s heart towards a productive communication.
This pack of cards contains inspirational conversation ideas that will make you wonder how well you actually know your child. It will also offer you a great opportunity for getting to know each other. It is meant for children with ages between 4 and 14 years old.
Asking question in a relationship can have many benefits. Asking questions openly and honestly helps you to become an active listener to your child. In addition, it will prove to your child that you are interested in his/her life and that you can offer the attention that he/she needs.
Being a good listener is a key quality in being a parent because this exercise can improve the connections and bonds between the parent and the child. As a parent, you also get the chance to find out information about your own child. In addition, you can show your child that you care about the things that he/she go through in the present by strengthening the steps in your child’s personal development.
When you start asking questions at an early stage of your child’s life, he/she will learn autonomy in analyzing and in thinking on its own regarding aspects of life or relationship that he/she will build in the future. Also, these open-end questions are great because there is no wrong answer and this releases the pressure that some children might feel when they are expected to give a correct answer.
The questions and conversations that start from these game cards give your child the opportunity to better understand the world he/she is living in because they help him/her to weigh the new information out of the experiences he/she has on a daily basis or from the past.
Why should we ask open-end questions?
Here are some of the benefits of open-end questions:
- They encourage thinking: open-end questions encourage the child to think at answers and explanations beyond the obvious information.
- They develop the ability of finding solutions: the child has the opportunity to find a variety of answers or choosing one answer that seems appropriate at that time.
- They offer the opportunity of giving a more developed answer: some questions give the child the opportunity of adding elements to a specific answer, elements that belong to feelings, attitudes, promoting empathy.
- They offer a deeper understanding: some questions can bring knew information to your child and encourage the cooperation between the child and the parent.
- They practice short term and long-term memory: some questions require remembering some information from the past.
- They develop vocabulary and free speech: when the child answers to a question, he/she sometimes needs to explain or describe that particular choice of an answer.
- They require the presence of an active listener: by practicing the active listening ability we prove to the child that his/her opinions matter.
How to use open-end questions?
By using open-end questions, you offer your child the opportunity to expand his/her horizon regarding curiosities about life, along with developing his/her creativity. With the help of these questions, your child will practice free answering and speaking without being constricted. He/she will also win independence in the relationship that will come.
The open-end questions can cover almost any topic because the key to this type of question is in choosing the right words. Most often, these questions start with “why”, “how” or with linguistic structures that imply a more elaborate answer; e.g., “tell me about…”, “I would like to hear more about…”, “what is your opinion about...”.
Starting a conversation with “what” implies accepting a simple and direct answer. This is a great way to start a dialogue. As a parent, you can start a conversation by pointing out to a specific object asking the following: “What is this (object)?”. Once you are given the answer, you can strengthen your child’s trust but acknowledging their answer. For instance, the parent can say “Yes, this is a bike.” Once this second step of the dialogue is done, the parent can extend the conversation asking for more details about the given object. For instance, he can ask questions related to the colour or purpose of object.
If we talk about older children, the questions can extend as complexity, but don’t forget – any answer is welcomed! There is no wrong answer!
Try to ask a question in manner that your child understands it. Even if he/she cannot find a suitable answer on the spot, you should make sure that he/she understood the question and that he/she had the opportunity to think about it.
In the same time, open-end questions might need a little bit of practice. Often, as parents, we feel guilty for limiting our time for a conversation by using short answer questions. It is important to realize that we do this because of our chaotic and busy life and that sometimes we don’t have enough time to listen to possible long answers. The problem with these short answer questions, especially when it comes to children, is that they have the tendency to end any dialogue opportunity. They don’t offer the child the opportunity to develop linguistic abilities or the chance to strengthen the bond between the child and the parent.
As an example, a straight forward question like “What do you gossip about in school?” can create mental barriers and difficulties in communication. The child can feel like standing for an interrogation and this will make him/her close up, or defensive, or not answer, or create a more or less realistic answer trying to avoid the parent’s reaction. The questions in this game are created in such a manner that everything should be made fun, interesting and exciting. Their purpose is to offer help in breaking mental boundaries and to open your communication pattern towards fun and enjoyable answers. The role of an active listener will give you the chance to analyze answers and extract the needed information for you to better know and understand how your child thinks. Practicing this role will allow you to be a silent observer of your child’s development; you will know if he/she is going into the right direct or if he/she has inhibitions, phobias, possible traumas or even drawbacks in some perspectives.
But don’t worry! Asking open-end question are just a new habit for your family and this game is perfect for starting this!
To enhance and develop your child’s communication abilities, here are some tips and tricks:
- Lower to your child’s level: sit down next to your child in such a way that he/she can make direct eye contact; don’t look at your child from a superior stand point.
- Connect and listen: always stay in the active listener’s role; pay attention not just to words, but also to gestures, facial expression and emotions.
- Talk in turns and adjust the questions age appropriate.
- If you notice that the child has lost interest in a topic you can always change it.
- Pay attention to your child’s interests, offering him/her the possibility of telling as many things about them as possible.
Some of the questions like “When is failure a success?” are very vague. They offer us the opportunity to see how our child can understand key-words in sentence – like “failure”, “success”. We can find out how he/she describes them, or associates them, or understands them from the context, or if it is too difficult to answer such a question. In the case that he/she doesn’t succeed to answer we have the wonderful possibility of teaching our child something new. It can happen that a straight forward education might be received with reluctance from the child’s side, but once you have practiced together several funny questions from this game, he/she will be more receptive towards an educational question.
Another example can be a history question – “If you could have a conversation with anyone in history, who would it be?”. It might happen that avoiding an answer to be connected to lack of knowledge. Therefore, this is a great opportunity to talk about a few historical heroes, offering answers like: “There are many heroes in history, like Hercules, which was very strong etc.” or “Einstein was a famous scientist who has revolutionized physics with his inventions etc.”. You can add photos or movies to your explanations.
In addition to this, the simple questions on these cards can hide a multitude of answers. The key is in how you address the question and how you develop secondary questions. So, a simple question can be the start of a fun and long conversation on a diversity of topics. Not feeling like an interrogation is the most important part of it. As a parent, take your turn and answer these questions, equally to your child, adding examples and personal experiences.
To give you an example, here is the questions “What subject do you hate in school?” – the child can say “mathematics”. In this case, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he/she hates the actual subject, but that he/she might not like the teacher’s attitude. It is your job to find out more about the real reasons behind the initial answer. But, once again, we recommend that you pay attention to how you make up the questions so that you avoid a possible defensive attitude from your child. If you sometimes feel that the child avoids answering, try to wonder around the subject with different questions that relax the atmosphere and get you to your needed answer.
In the end, keep in mind the following:
- It is important to be a good role model, encouraging your child by taking your turn to answer or by giving examples from your own life.
- Be a safe have
- Don’t scold your child for responses you don’t like.
- Keep things in perspective and remember your parenting goals.
- Show your live through actions
- Reflect on your own childhood and contemplate on what answers you would have given as a child. Remember, each answer can be seen different through others eyes. Your child might mean something else in their young mind, and you might process something different.
- Don’t throw questions continuously.
- Don’t make your child feel like he/she is the only one answering; it is equally important for you to participate and add information from your own childhood.
- Add secondary questions in a funny way.
- Try to avoid short “yes”/ “no” questions. Use open-end questions to give your child the possibility to answer in full sentences. This rule applies to parents, too.
- Try to imagine yourself in your child’s shoes and see if he/she is answering out of pleasure or out of feeling pressured.
- Don’t ask for a blow-by-blow account of their day. Imagine if someone asked you “So what was the first thing you did at work? And then what did you do? And then what did you do after that? And after that?” It would probably make you made and agitated. Most of what you do at work is boring and repetitive, and not something you want to recount to someone else. Well, your child feels the same way about school. Don’t ask for a blow-by-blow rundown of his day because it usually doesn’t change all that much. Instead, focus your questions or anomalies he/she experienced that day.
- Try again later if your child is not engaging. If, despite your best efforts, your child isn’t engaging in conversation, abort the mission and try again later. Your child, probably, doesn’t want to talk right then, but maybe later is a better moment.