Open and Close

With all the advice out there for parents isn’t any of it super duper easy and simple? Why yes, yes it is. Learn to ask your kids both open ended questions and close ended questions.

Close ended questions are those that encourage short or one-word answers. For example, “How was school?” or “What do you want for lunch?” The purpose of closed ended questions is to give and receive information quickly and succinctly. This type of informational exchange is necessary and useful. Most people fill their days answering and asking closed ended questions.

Open ended questions are those that encourage longer, more thoughtful answers that rely on one’s own knowledge, thoughts, and feelings. For example, “What did you enjoy about school today?” or “How would you handle the situation in the future?” These types of questions require more time but have personal and relational benefits beyond just the exchange of information.

The benefits of open ended questions are:

– Encouraging children to use vocabulary, including younger children.
– Encouraging creativity and imagination by sharing one’s own ideas, thoughts, and feelings.
– Encouraging thinking because answers are not readily available.
– Building relationships and trust through communication and demonstrating that the other person’s ideas, thoughts, and feelings are of value to the listener.
– Building self esteem because there is usually no right answer.
– Building a sense of self because one must formulate and convey their own thoughts, opinions, ideas, knowledge, and feelings.

When asking open ended questions be sure you have time to listen and communicate in a meaningful way. Also be sure you ask at times when others are ready to share. For example, parents are often eager to hear about their kid’s day right after school, but many kids need down time and do not want to share right away.

So, wasn’t that simple? Err, we mean, what are your thoughts on asking open and closed ended questions?

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