Some would say that asking a good question is even better than the answer. I’m not so sure about that as I think it is important that we gain wisdom and understanding (which comes from an answer) but asking a good question is certainly an important part.
Knowing a Good Question
I remember Daniel asking, what I thought was a good question: If there was no sin in the world, would we still have computer games? This lead to a conversation about adventure, danger and pain in light of God’s creation and the fall. It was a good question because it lead to a conversation, it lead to further understanding, which leads to growth!
Our hesitancy to encourage questions often comes from feeling inadequate to give answers. Three things will help here:
1–Understand how important asking a question is – this should motivate us to get over our hesitancy for the sake of our children’s growth
2–Understand that we don’t always have to give the answers but rather facilitate an interaction to help them find answers
3–Learn how to ask good questions ourselves so that we too are curious and can be interested in the process of finding answers
As a mum I can quickly tire of questions – especially in the preschool age years. They have questions about everything. Often they repeat the same question for no other reason than they like the sound of their own voice (or so it seems to me!!) This is a really good time to start teaching our kids to ask good questions. Good questions have answers. Good questions have answers about something you didn’t know yourself. So instead of mindlessly answering the 50th question for the day, stop and help them think through the issue. Is there really an answer? Do they already know the answer? And then tell them; assure them, that you are available to answer good questions, to help them find out things that they don’t know.
Encourage your Kids to Ask Questions
There are two types of good questions – questions that want to know the facts and questions that want to understand heart issues: beliefs, convictions, choices etc. We need to encourage both.
Four things that will encourage our kids to ask good questions:
1–Be Enthusiastic – Children often have a natural curiosity; a desire to learn and an ability to observe the things around them. We can quickly dampen their curiosity by being half-heartedly involved and only glancing at the things they are interested in. We can also dampen their curiosity by requiring a full on unit-study or visit to the library on the topic. We need to encourage curiosity not kill it.
2–Expand their World – this goes hand in hand with curiosity. If our children/teens are not experiencing anything, not being challenged in the physical, emotional, spiritual, moral or intellectual areas, they will have no questions. We need to give our children a stimulating environment where there is plenty of opportunity to think and process new things. (Age appropriate of course!)
3–Be Accepting – Asking a question is a vulnerable thing – you are telling someone you don’t know something. A child needs the security of knowing that they won’t be considered foolish for asking a question. There is no wrong question if it comes from a curiosity and desire to learn something.
4–Time – a child will quickly shut down if their questions are constantly met with ‘not now’, ‘can’t you see I’m busy’, ‘we’ll look into that later’. Though there may well be times when you can’t answer at that moment, they do need to know that their questions are important to you and you will help them find the answers.
Questions lead to Conversations
Questions can have a simple one word answer or they can lead to a conversation, hearing a person’s heart or they can lead to learning something new. With Daniel’s question I could easily have given my opinion – yes or no. But in honour of him asking a good question I had to pick it up and interact with him over it.
My first words to him was a question. We need to move away from a teacher/student interaction, where the teacher knows the answers. Instead we need to move to a conversation based interaction where the teacher/student sparks off each other with questions and ideas and knowledge. And yes, this takes time – but the learning and heart connections that happen are so worth it.
Don’t Waste the Time you have with your Kids in the Car: When we see driving in the car with our kids as a relationship opportunity we can use this time to invest in their lives.