As a parent, you know each child is different. Some are talkative, some are not. For children to communicate well, we have to take the first steps to teach them.
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Engaging intentionally with our kids helps them feel safe, seen, and loved. Luke 6:38 tells us, “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” When we gift our child with a tentative ear, he will return with conversations we never thought possible.
Look through the following age-designated questions. I’m tagging along as your parenting cheerleader. Pompoms up!
Ask Investigative Questions to Get Your Child Talking
As a professional communicator, I love to engage with my audience. I intentionally get them talking to identify their needs. You can do this with your children, by asking a couple simple questions.
What’s your favorite thing in the world?
What season of the year makes you happy?
As a parent of four adult children, Maw-Maw to fifteen grandchildren, and a brand-new Great Maw-Maw, I can tell you from experience one thing parenting has in common with professional speaking are the moments you wonder, “Is anyone listening?”
Look for a time to ask your child questions casually. Be intentional in asking when you and your child are alone. Don’t apply pressure. Ask. And don’t ask all the questions at one time. Pace them out over a couple of weeks.
Listen intentionally with love. You can do this. When I cross into new territory, I’m always encouraged by the Lord’s promise in Isaiah 43:2, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you…” When you are talking to your toddler, try beginning with their favorites.
- What is your favorite color?
- What is your favorite food?
- What makes you laugh?
Get your child to talk more.
- Paint a picture using only their favorite color and talk about it.
- Prepare your child’s favorite food and ask why they like it.
- Practice giggling with your child. As silly as it seems, their response is worth every minute of you feeling a little uncomfortable.
When you choose to have fun talking with your toddler, they will likely enjoy being more responsible, beginning with picking up their toys.
3 Questions to Ask Your 4-8-year-old
- What is your favorite song?
- What is your favorite flavor?
- What is your favorite place to be?
Get your child to open up.
- Play, let’s find the color red. Or use your child’s favorite color and talk about what you see.
- Find your child’s song and listen to it together. Tell your child what you like the most about the music. Ask them what they like the most.
- Share your favorite flavor and serve up ice cream with both flavors. “I’ll try yours if you try mine.”
- If your child’s favorite place is an actual location, look it up online and talk more about it. Create a picture of their favorite place to hang on your child’s wall.
When your preschooler knows you are interested in who they are, they will be more interested in participating in morning prayers. How powerful and fun is that?
4 Questions to Ask Your 9-12-year-old
- Who is your favorite teacher? Replace with what is your favorite school subject if homeschooled.
- What kind of creature scares you?
- Who is your best friend?
- What makes you smile?
- Share with your child who your favorite teacher or mentor is. Ask, “Why is (teacher’s name) your favorite? Tell her about your favorite teacher.
- Look up his favorite creature online. Create a collage showing the creature’s beauty. Talk about God’s creation.
- Not every child has a best friend. If yours does, talk about what makes them unique to your child (Now is not the time to debate. Remember to be interested in who your child is, her BFF says a lot). If your child does not have a BFF, share what you look for in a friend.
- Take pictures of your child smiling. Let your child take photos of you smiling. Take pictures of you smiling together.
If we fail to engage with our preteens in everyday activities, are we equipped to provide proper, gentle parenting skills to influence their self-esteem?
2 Questions to ask your 13-16-year-old
- Name two words you would use to describe yourself.
- What do you dream of doing for fun?
Get your child to talk more.
- Color may or may not be necessary at this age. If your teen has one, remember it. If not, share your favorite and why.
- Asking teens to talk about themselves can go two ways, abundant outpouring or silence. If silence occurs, ask how they would describe their favorite singer, actor, or friend. Then talk about it.
- Listen more. Give time for your teen to answer. Share what makes you smile.
- Fun is in the mind of the dreamer. Give this topic a lot of time. Make the dream happen if you are able.
If we fail to communicate in the fundamental areas with our teens, how can we discuss the more important topics like sexual orientation, gender identity, and same-sex attraction? Allow yourself to feel and look a little silly if that’s what it takes for your teen to know you’re serious about knowing her better.
Remember to use the above questions one at a time over a couple of weeks. Don’t consider your time together as an interrogation session, this is “I want to know more about you” time. Time that will come back to you in deep meaningful ways.
©2023 by Linda Goldfarb. All rights reserved. Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one half of any book of the ESV Bible.