Everything we know has its origins in questions. ~ Neil Postman
As far as years go, 2020 distinguishes itself from other years. I know that I have spent this year asking many questions, such as “how do we do this?” and “why can’t we just do that?” You probably have many questions to ask your children over dinner or when you pick them up from school. As I’ve done in the past, I’d like to suggest some questions that may elicit an illuminating response.
As you consider strategic questions to ask your child, also consider the wise guidance of Dr. Michael Thompson. Dr. Thompson is a clinical psychologist who has spoken to students, parents, and faculty several times at HDS. He urges parents to avoid what he calls “interviewing for pain.” He says you can impact your child’s mindset and mood by asking questions that unpack what your child may consider old news. His example: a child complains to his parent about a friend’s mean behavior on a Tuesday. The child then goes to school on Wednesday and has a great day. Meanwhile, their parent stews over the injustice served on their child the day before. The minute the child gets in the car on Wednesday, the parent asks if the friend was mean again, and what did the child say to the friend today? The child replies to the parent, “oh, we had a really fun time playing hopscotch today, but, oh, you’re right. A friend was mean to me yesterday. I bet he’ll be mean again tomorrow…” While the child had forgotten and had a great day, the parent turned their child’s smile upside down by raising the memory of the previous bad day. Dr. Thompson also claims that repeated “interviews for pain” can mislead a child into thinking you want them to find those types of stories and look for the slights and pains in their day.
So, if you’re at a loss for some questions to ask your child after school, please consider a few of these:
- What did you learn today?
- When did you laugh today?
- Who did you do something nice for today? What was it?
- How did you help your teacher today?
- Did you try something new today?
- What are you working on improving?
- Was anything really easy today?
- Was anything really hard today?
- Did you play/work/sit with anyone new?
- Did anyone help you with something?
- Did you notice anyone being kind to someone else?
- Did you see anyone being unkind? How did you respond?
- When did you have to make a choice? How did you make that choice?
- What surprised you?
- What was fun today?
- Is there anything you will do differently tomorrow?
- Did anyone inspire you?
- Who did you thank today?
- What are you reading?
- What was the hardest rule to follow today?
- What made you feel proud?
- How did you make someone smile today?
- If you could change one thing from today, what would you change? How would you change it?
I often ask students about their favorite part of the day when I chat with them at carpool. I love the answers I hear. Let me know if you have a great question to ask.
Gradatim ad Summum,