“Speak up. I didn’t hear what you said.” The only thing that would make me cringe more, after hearing that phrase directed to a kidlet, is to hear their Mom or Dad say “Oh Johnny or Sally is shy.” ARGH!! First off, adults need to be sure to give young children enough time to answer. Secondly, I am not fond of the word shy. It’s a self-defeating, self-realizing label.
Children learn language from direct, interaction with their parents, other adults—even other children. It’s really quite remarkable. They no need for formal teaching, it’s something that happens automatically, and naturally, when children are exposed to and engaged in face-to-face interactions.
Learning to talk is a process. It begins with learning sounds, learning words, then learning how to create sentences. Talking is one aspect of communication.
Communication is also important in relationships.
All relationships are deepened with one-on-one, quality time together—in particular, time talking and listening. This is especially true of parent-child relationships.
In my post on Open-Ended Questions I delve into why it’s helpful using them with kiddos. Another benefit of using open-ended questions, that I think is especially important, is it gives children practice in finding their voice and speaking out loud.
Once you’re comfortable using open-ended questions with your kiddo, you’ll discover how open-ended questions develop their:
• Creative Thinking Skills and
• Problem-Solving Skills
Additionally, using open-ended questions will take your child’s language development to higher levels.
Communication and Safety.
Bullying is real. Help your child gain confidence and speak up, with conviction. These are skills that will counter any possible bullying situations they may encounter. Confidence and being able to speak up will also help protect your child against grooming by abusers.
In addition, being familiar and comfortable with open-ended questions means you’ll have this communication technique in your parental toolkit to help you to reach out and connect not only with your child now, but also as they transition into older stages–stages that may present other challenges, where having open lines of communication can be vitally important.
Research and studies have proven PLAY is important for children’s overall health and wellness. Being aware of and taking into consideration safety factors also is important for parents to insure their child’s health and wellness. Play & Grow was honored to participate in the Child Safety Fair sponsored by Savvy Parent Safe Child and the Bellevue Police Department. One of the (many) activity options I had for children to do was give me a response to an open-ended question. I showed them the below sign:
“What does this sign tell you to do?”
NOTE: If a kidlet was really young I first asked, “Have you ever seen a sign like this before?” I don’t like putting them on the defensive or making them feel uncomfortable. A good rule of thumb: Don’t assume that all young children have been exposed to whatever topic or concept you’re introducing. Another guiding principle: Think compassion and kindness first when interacting with a young child!
I was so pleased to discover all the children I surveyed knew what the sign’s meaning! Some kiddos voluntarily shared more information, just as open-ended questions encourage. With others, I followed up with:
——————“Where are you when you see this kind of sign?”
——————“What are you doing when you see this kind of sign?”
I could tell for some of the children this was the 1st time an adult had ever asked them this type of question and then had it documented. They watched intently as I wrote out their reply! It makes a kidlet feel like what they say matters…and, of course, it does!
I also asked their name to go along with their reply. Yet another good rule of thumb: Don’t assume you know how to spell a child’s name! I’m mindful of different spellings, which was fortunate for me, because I had a Lucas and Lukas! The relief on Lukas’ face was apparent when he didn’t have to correct ME with his name. I started writing and reciting as I wrote: “L”, “U”…then paused as I asked: “Do you spell your name with a ‘c’ or ‘k’?” He replied straightaway with “K” and his mother thanked me as well for not assuming the other spelling option…they must have to deal with that a lot!
Open-ended questions cause kiddos to think and reflect on their replies; they give them the (often rare) chance to share their opinions and/or feelings on a topic; and just as open-ended PLAY is child-led and child-directed, open-ended questions transfer control of the conversation to your child. They decide what, when and how much they want to speak UP!
Please share–especially if you believe children should be seen AND heard!
Yours in Play!