Monday, November 13, 2017

Simple Tip for Powerful Conversations with Kids: Start with "What if.." vs. "Have you..?"

No one likes to get cornered or be interrogated, kids included! When people feel as through they may end up in trouble for answering a question, they may choose to not be as open or honest with their answers. Relationships between a parent and child, teacher and student, coach and athlete, etc. can be challenging enough already, so here's a quick tip to make things a bit easier that I find works well:
Start conversations with "What if..?" instead of "Have you..?"
This simple tip works well for all types of conversations. For example, when talking with kids about technology, consider the differences between asking the following questions:

What would you do if you saw someone being mean to someone online?
Have you ever been mean to someone online? 
What would you do if a friend wanted to show you inappropriate pictures online? 
Have you ever looked at inappropriate pictures online?
This technique removes the potential fear of a reprimand. I've found it also leads to deeper, more meaningful conversations, too. Variations that might get a bit more personal yet still don't completely corner the person being asked might be "Have you ever seen this happen..?" or "Have any of your friends ever..?" And of course, the questions don't need to be limited to just technology. All sorts of topics are easier to discuss without making them so personal from the get go-- cheating, drugs and alcohol, etc.

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