In the previous article, we discussed the first three steps on how to connect with your kids.
- How to connect with your kids in 7 simple(or easy) steps
- Eat with kids
- Cook with kids, and then clean up together
- Ask empowering questions
As a parent, we should all learn to utilize empowering questions when speaking to our children. An empowering question can be defined as a powerful, open-ended, challenging query that encourages your child to search for answers.
An example of this type of question is “What is another way to look at that?” These questions allow our children to probe for answers without feeling judged and hopefully will lead to their own answers.
An empowering question should begin with “who, what, where, when, and how”. Try to avoid the word “how” because it sounds judgmental at times.
Try to ask open-ended questions that will create more clarity and allow our children to arrive at their own answers. Our kids eventually grow up and will have to make their own decisions.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could teach them how to make decisions for themselves and not constantly tell them what to do. This is the ultimate goal of what an empowering question tries to accomplish. We were given one mouth and two ears and we should learn how to use them in that proportion.
If you begin to master empowering questions, you will notice how transformed and fulfilling your relationships will become.
My son Michael is an excellent piano player, although it was difficult for us to get him to practice when he was younger. I would often get frustrated when he would make countless excuses why he didn’t want to practice his new songs.
I had an “Aha!” moment in life from this experience.
I asked him “What about practicing don’t you like.”
His response was that the new songs were difficult and I surmised that he was getting frustrated and overwhelmed. My perspective totally shifted. I thought he was lazy and uninterested, yet the real reason was something completely different. If I had not listened to him, I would have imposed my will upon him and probably made him hate playing the piano.
I allowed him to progress at his own pace and he eventually overcame his disdain for starting new songs.
The remaining steps are similar and I would like to discuss them together. I begin every morning with a kiss from each of my children. There is no better way to start the day, and that is usually the first entry in my gratitude journal, a journal that I write everything that I am thankful for. I feel blessed to have my children, and I want them to share these same feelings towards me.
Kids need to be nurtured and to feel loved by their parents. They need to be caressed and touched lovingly by mom and dad. I feel that it creates a bond between parent and child. I even massage my young children while we recite our prayers right before they fall asleep. Children will love the attention, and I often get requests during the day for a quick massage.
I am also very conscious of not criticizing or putting down my children, although I do often disagree with them. I will never tell them that they are not good at some activity. I will encourage then to practice or try harder if they want to improve. Remember, you can never spoil a child with true love (they are not fruit).
I am there to bolster their self-confidence and self-esteem, not make them feel inferior. They have to feel confident to be able to share any problems with dad, and constant criticism will only push them away.
We can raise our children’s self-esteem and self-image by giving praise. Give praise to your children for both small and large accomplishments. The more you praise a behavior, the more it will be reinforced, and the more likely it will be repeated. There are 4 rules to praising:
Praise immediately. It will reinforce the good behavior.
Praise specifically. For example, instead of telling your child he is good, tell him he did a great job on the book report. The behavior will be repeated.
Praise in public or in front of others. Let your other children hear how good their brother or sister is. They will strive for the same praise, and will mirror their sibling’s actions.
Praise continuously. This will help build the habit of good behavior.
It was not always easy for me to connect with my children. It took me several years to begin to appreciate my children’s concerns and how to address them appropriately. I hope this article has offered some advice for you to use to communicate with your kids.
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