“An honest man is always a child”
Over the last two weeks, I presented the technique of parenting the Socrates way through questions. The first chapter introduced the benefit of asking questions. The second chapter discussed the right and wrong questions to ask. This week, we will explore the types of questions that you can use to stimulate thinking, creativity, focus, proportion, clarity, motivation and growth in your children.
Open questions – Questions that make kids think.
For example, “What do you think?”
Closed question – Questions that can be answered with “yes” or “no”.
For example, “Would you like to come with me to the shops?”
Why questions – Questions that go deep in order to find reasons (and can encourage the kids to give excuses or to blame someone, so be careful about them).
For example, “Why are your hands dirty?”
Rhetorical questions – Questions that are not questions. Such questions are more statements than questions. Try to avoid using such questions with kids unless you are using them to say something good about them.
For example, “You are great at this, aren’t you?”
Feeling questions – Such questions are important to understand what your kids are feeling and they will encourage your kids to express themselves.
For example, “How do you feel about what he did?”
Situational questions – Questions that you ask to uncover what is happening with your kids now. Such questions will help you discover your kids’ perceptions of their current situation.
For example, “How are you feeling about it today?
Inquiry questions – Questions that can help you find out what your kids want – what motivates them and their desires.
For example, “What do you want?”
Action questions – Questions that promote action and help you, as the parent, to find out how your kids perceive their ability to change the situation. Usually after inquiry questions, you can ask action questions, to help your kid act on his wants.
For example, “How are you planning to do that?” or “What is the next step?”
Thought provoking questions – These questions make kids think, re-think, and help them look at things from different perspectives.
For example, “What would you have done if you were in his place?”, “What else could you do?” or “How would you do it differently?”
Endless possibilities questions – Some questions can present many possibilities and encourage kids to explore those possibilities. Use such questions a lot, they are the source of creativity.
For example, “If you could do anything you wanted, what would you do?”, “If you could stay at home for the whole year, what would you do?” or “If you could do it all over again, how would you do it with your new knowledge?”
Clarifying questions – Such questions are for you, the parent, to get a clear understanding of something you are not sure about.
For example, “What did you mean when you said…?”
Being questions – These questions help kids define who they are and help parents support their kids establishing their own identity.
For example, “How proud of yourself are you now?”
Solution questions – Questions that suggest thoughts about solutions can help your kids become problem solvers.
For example, “How can you solve the problem?” or “Who do you know who can help you with this?”
Encouraging questions – Questions that help kids move forward towards better beliefs, thoughts and experiences. Such questions are very helpful in giving support in difficult situations.
For example, “Can you see what is going to happen after you finish the project?” or “How about you take a short break and come back to it later?”
Reminder questions – These questions remind the kids about things that they already know. If you state these things as questions, it supports the communication instead of presenting you as a control freak.
For example, “Do you remember that we have agreed you watch TV only after you finish your homework?”
Challenging questions – These questions will help kids stretch themselves.
For example, “Can you do it a little bit better next time?”
Keep in mind that questions go straight to the subconscious, so even if your kids do not answer immediately, the questions stimulate their thinking. Get yourself familiar with all the types of questions to help you use positive, challenging and encouraging questions.
Warning: Socrates became one of the greatest philosophers of all times using the same questions, but because he overdid it, some people considered him a pain. He literally died for asking too many questions. Make sure you are sincere in your questioning and that you genuinely want your kids to learn and to know. Be sincere in wanting to help and encourage them. You are not an investigator, nor are the kids criminals needing to justify themselves for their fears and wants. Choose good questions and use them wisely.
Remember, questions are great tools to raise kids.
This post is part of the series Parenting the Socrates Way: