What questions to ask kids: 9 Cool Questions to Ask Your Kid
20 Engaging Questions to Ask Kids at Church
Creating a Conversation
When I was a kid, the longest part of Sunday morning wasn’t the drive to church, the Sunday school hour, or even the worship service. The longest part of Sunday morning was the time after the service when all the grown-ups stood around and talked. My stomach was rumbling, my shiny Mary Janes had begun to pinch my toes, and many of my friends had already left. And yet Mom and Dad kept talking. And talking. And talking.
Several feet shorter than the conversing groups of adults, I often felt invisible, amusing myself by twirling around my mom’s legs, down near the floor where nobody bothered to look. Heard from my knee-high position, this grown-up conversation, like the “mwahhmwahhmwahh” of the adults in a Peanuts movie, was unintelligible at worst and uninteresting at best.
With the captivating story of a little girl whose parents mistakenly leave her at church, this TGC Kids picture book illustrates Jesus’s command to “love one another,” showing children ages 3–7 that God has provided the church to be their loving community.
But every so often, one of those adults would stop talking to my mom or dad and would bend down on my level. The church member would look me in the eye, smile, and ask a question to me. All of a sudden, I’d forget my hunger and my shoes. I’d forget my boredom. This person thought I was important! This person wanted to know me!
Forming the Next Generation Starts Now
As churches everywhere shake their heads in frustration over declining commitment among younger generations, we need to remember that a person’s commitment to the church is often formed early—perhaps earlier than we think. And commitment to the church grows in small ways—a single grown-up who takes an interest in a young child can make all the difference in how that little one experiences the church.
Even a simple question or two, asked with a smile, can teach a child that he or she is welcomed and valued in the congregation. When we do this, we model Christ who invited children, affirmed their importance to the kingdom, and commanded his disciples to make it easy for little ones to meet him.
On Sunday morning after church, ask a young child one of these questions. You can begin with one of the questions designed to simply get to know him or her and move toward one of the questions that engages his or her faith. Whatever you ask, it will probably be the start of a great conversation, and it might even awaken love for the church in the next generation.
Even a simple question or two, asked with a smile, can teach a child that he or she is welcomed and valued in the congregation.
Get to Know Kids
- What’s your name? (Be sure to say your name, too.)
- How old are you?
- What treat would you like to eat on your birthday? (Kids are always planning their next birthday.)
- What’s your favorite _____ (animal, sport, color, candy, etc.)
- Who do you like to play with? What do you play with him/her?
- What makes that person a good friend?
- What’s something that made you laugh today?
- What’s something that made you feel disappointed today?
- What’s something you know how to do really well?
- What’s something you’d like to learn how to do?
Engage Kids’ Faith
- What’s your favorite song that we sang in church today?
- Why do you especially like that one?
- What’s your favorite Bible story?
- What’s the best part of that story?
- What’s something you know about Jesus?
- What’s something you are curious about Jesus?
- What’s something that makes you worried?
- Who do you talk to when you have a problem? How does that person help?
- What’s one way God has helped you?
- How can I pray for you?
Megan Hill is the author of Meg Is Not Alone.
Megan Hill (BA, Grove City College) is the author of several books, including Praying Together and A Place to Belong. She also serves as the managing editor for the Gospel Coalition. A pastor’s wife and a pastor’s daughter, she lives in Massachusetts with her husband and four children, where they belong to West Springfield Covenant Community Church (PCA).
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7 Questions to Ask Your Kids Instead of “Why?”You walk into your child’s room. Toys are EVERYWHERE. Your son forgot the book he needs for his homework…again. Your daughter refuses to go to her school dance. After you bought the dress.
A very normal response to these infuriating situations is to ask: “Why?!?!”“Why did you take out every single toy you own?” “Why did you forget your book again?” “Why don’t you want to go to the dance?”
It a natural reaction to want to drill our children for answers.
Unfortunately, the most common answer to “Why?” is…”I don’t know.”
This answer may sound snippy or disrespectful, which may lead you to feel even more frustrated. However, it may be the most accurate answer your child can provide.
Chances are, your child is not great at thinking through their actions. They may not be great at processing and expressing what they are thinking and feeling. And that is OK.
They are not developmentally ready to answer the elusive “Why?”
So, while they are developing, you can help them strengthen these skills by working with them to process their decisions.
Here are 7 Questions to Ask Your Kids Instead of “Why”
1. What happened first?
2. Then what happened?
3. When did things get off track?
4. How were you feeling when that happened?
5. Can you think of a way to solve this problem?
6. Can we look at this another way?
7. What needs to happen now?
Learn More: “Communication for Imperfect Families” e-course!
Tips to Get to “Why” – By Age
Toddler/Preschoolers: At this age, it’s best to comment on what you see. “Wow! There are a lot of toys on the floor!” Then, you can talk about the next steps. “We’ve got to get these toys cleaned up. Should we clean up the Barbies or the blocks first?” For children who are developmentally able, you can brainstorm ideas for next time, “Can you think of a way we can keep from having to do all this cleaning next time?” Encourage any ideas they share.
Elementary: Children at this age are better able to think about what came first, next and last. “Ok, you were packing your backpack, then what happened?” Let them think. “Oh, Ben told you to ‘hurry up.’” If possible, identify what they may have been feeling or thinking at that time. “I wonder if you felt rushed.” Next, work together to brainstorm solutions. Resist the urge to fix the problem for the child. Write down their solution. Give it a try. Then, revise as necessary.
Teens: It may seem that your teen should be able to have it all figured out by now. Unfortunately, they are still developing the skills to think through their actions. And, to make matters worse, there are social pressures and social consequences that can influence their decision-making. It often leads teens to feel confused. Be patient with your teen. Encourage them to think through their thoughts and feelings without offering criticism or judgment. See what solutions they can offer before you give your opinion.
If your child (of any age) seems to be more sad, angry, anxious than usual; is isolating more than normal; or avoiding activities they once loved, it may be a sign of something more serious. Please seek help from a mental health professional.
Are you struggling with your responses or are you unsure how to help your child learn these skills? You don’t have to parent alone. Contact me for a free phone consultation to see if Parent Coaching is a good fit for you.
Alternative questions for a child: how to teach to make a choice
Alternative questions are one of the most effective tools for raising a child. They help teach him to make feasible decisions and redirect him from resistance to reflection. With their help, we show the baby that his opinion is important and that he matters. In this article, we will talk more about the benefits of alternative questions and what to do if they do not work. We will also give examples in different situations of life with a child.
Why teach a child to make choices using alternative questions
By asking an alternative question, we distract the child from the objections “I won’t” and “I don’t want” to reflection. Instead of exhortations: “We need to go for a walk. Right now. Be a good girl, do it for mommy”, you can offer: “What do you want to wear? Red T-shirt or blue? And then the child will switch from protesting “I don’t want to go out” to thinking: “What T-shirt do I want to wear?”.
If we offer a child a choice (within reason), which suits him better, then most likely there will be no conflict. Children love when their opinion is taken into account.
If you know that there is some difficult situation for the child, you can think about what choice to give him. You can ask when cleaning: “Will you clean it yourself or will I help you?” Then the child will feel that he is not being forced, but advised.
It is important to remember:
- It is better to start asking alternative questions at positive moments, when the child and the adult are calm, well-fed and slept well. And only after the child has made enough decisions in a positive atmosphere, can they be transferred to situations of protest and resistance.
- Each of the proposed options must be acceptable to you. If you are not ready to cook an omelet, then you should not ask “Will you have porridge or an omelet?”
A child who has never been asked to make a choice before may habitually answer “no” to everything. In this case, we gently bring it to the decision and show that it is taken into account.
For example, while walking we say: “We are going home soon. Will you walk with me by the hand or by yourself? Let’s say the child says “No!”. Then we ask: “Will you still take a little walk and will I come to remind you a little later?” – “Yes”.
“A little later” can be from 30 seconds to 3 minutes, depending on the child’s age. When they pass, we remind you: “A little later. Time to go home. Are you going by the hand or by yourself?” Maybe the child will protest again, then we have no choice but to set boundaries and take the child home. Leave alternative questions for next time.
The ability to choose in early childhood teaches you to make decisions in adulthood. Therefore, it is important to give the little ones this experience. But you need to clearly understand what tasks they can solve. No need to offer to decide whether the three-year-old should go to his garden or not. And it is psychologically difficult for him to choose, and you cannot accept the option “I don’t want to!”. But simpler subject solutions are within the reach of kids.
The younger the child, the better he should be aware of what he chooses from. Adults can choose from some speculative things, but a child can imagine little. Therefore, initially, the questions should be inside the situation and be clear:
- What are we buying – a car or a designer?
- What will you eat – porridge or cottage cheese?
With babies, we always offer an alternative of two elements: “Which spoon are you going to eat now?” and show two spoons of different color, shape or size. “What panties do we wear?” and offer both options. The child may not yet speak, but he will be able to show that he reaches for what he chooses.
These simple choices in early childhood (with the help of alternative questions) are the basis for making much more serious decisions later in life. And if such a start is made, then at an older age we get a person who knows how to make cool decisions.
Examples of alternative questions
To make it easier to remember the right question, write 15-20 alternative questions in advance for different situations. Or you can choose from our list.
Alternative questions in the kitchen:
- Would you like water or juice?
- Do you want tea with or without sugar?
- Would you like porridge or scrambled eggs?
- Will you have oatmeal or corn?
- Will you put rice in your soup or will you eat it separately?
- Would you like a salad or should I?
- Serve bread or reach yourself?
- Will you butter the bread yourself or will I help you?
- Will you peel the banana itself or will I help you?
- Will you eat cutlet or pasta?
- Do you want a transparent or white plate?
- Will you eat with a spoon or a fork?
- Will you arrange the plates for everyone or just for yourself?
- Will you take a plate or a glass?
- Will you call everyone to the table or will I?
- Shall we bake a cake or cookies?
- Will you pour milk into the dough yourself or should I pour it?
- Sift the flour through a sieve or pour it from a glass?
- Will you put the salt into the pan with your fingers or with a spoon?
- Will you make round molds or flowers?
What kind of tea will we drink – green or red?
Alternative questions in everyday affairs:
- Will you put flowers in a yellow or green vase?
- Will you bring the cloth yourself or should I bring it?
- Will you carry the package or will I?
- Shall we buy this milk or this?
- Will you take the groceries out of the bag yourself or will I?
- Will you bring the laundry from the washing machine or should I bring it?
- Will you put in the powder or will I?
- Shall we hang the laundry together or you yourself?
- Shall we dismantle the dishwasher now or after breakfast?
- Shall we dust or sweep?
- Wipe the dust with a cloth or a brush?
- Shall we wash your shoes or mine?
Will you dry up the water or will I?
For hygiene procedures:
- Do we cut the nails on the left hand or on the right?
- Will you brush your teeth with bunny toothpaste or with a baby?
- Will you wash your face yourself or will your mother wash it?
- Will you squeeze out the toothpaste yourself or will I help you?
- Will you wash your hands with white or green soap?
- Will you wash your hands with liquid or solid soap?
- Get some water or take a shower?
- Will you wash your face or brush your teeth?
- Will you brush your upper teeth first or your lower teeth?
- Which towel will you take: green or red?
- Shall we bathe today or just wash ourselves?
- Will you take ducks or boats with you to the bathroom?
- Shall we wash our head or back first?
- Shall we dry our hair with a hair dryer or wait until it dries itself?
Open the faucet or should I open it?
- Will you wear a yellow or blue T-shirt?
- Will you wear shorts or pants today?
- Shall we put the sock on the right foot or on the left?
- Will you put on your pants yourself or will you help me?
- Will you put on your jacket or hat first?
- Will you take off your hat or jacket?
- Who gets dressed first – you or me?
- Shall we bring an umbrella or a raincoat?
- Shall we tie a ponytail or make a pigtail?
- Transparent rubber band or colored?
Will you hang your jacket on plastic hangers or on wooden hangers?
Alternative questions during the walk:
- Shall we go to feed the ducks or go to the playground?
- Do you want to take your father or mother by the hand?
- Will you take a bicycle or scooter with you?
- Where are we walking today – in the park or on the playground?
- Do you want to run or jump?
- Will you catch up with me or should I catch up with you?
- Are we going right or left?
- Will you go ahead or next? Right or left?
- Will you go out the door first or follow me?
- Will you pack your backpack or carry things in a bag?
- Shall we stay on this site or on that one?
- Will you take a typewriter or a bucket with a shovel to the site?
- Will you close the lock or should I close it?
- Will you ride a big swing or a small one?
- Will you go down the stairs yourself or will you give me a pen?
- Shall we follow papa or shall we run?
- Shall we look at these flowers or smell them?
- Which hand will you throw pebbles into the pond, left or right?
- Will you ride the slide or play in the sandbox?
- Shall we return home by the same road or another one?
Will you climb the hill yourself or will you be pushed?
Alternative questions in games and activities:
- Shall we make a puzzle with flowers or trees?
- Shall we put away Lego or cars first?
- Will you remove the red car first or the blue one?
- Shall we pick cherries or currants?
- What will we water – a garden bed or a flower bed?
- Will you wipe the leaves or water the flower?
- Turn on slow or fast music?
- Shall we build a house or a garage?
- What will you draw with: paints or pencils?
- Will you cut with straight or curly scissors?
- Will you give me a toy in my right or left hand?
- Will you assemble the designer at the table or on the mat?
Can I help you put the toys away or can you do it yourself?
When going to bed:
- Should you sing a song about a horse or about toys?
- Will you turn on the night light yourself or should I turn it on?
- Close the curtains or you yourself?
- Will you make the bed yourself or should I make it?
- Will you sleep in pajamas or in a T-shirt?
- Which pajamas will you wear: red or yellow?
- Shall I cover you with a blanket or a rug?
- Would you like to read a book or tell a story?
- Will you lie under the covers or on top?
Let’s read the story about Seryozha or about Polina?
If alternative questions don’t work
We received a message from our reader:
“I practice alternative questions and unfortunately it doesn’t work at all. The child simply does not hear questions that are not related to his problem, and rushes around the apartment until you catch up and start dressing.
— Will you go in a dress or a T-shirt?
– No. At home!
— Will you assemble the toys by yourself or will I help you?
— *ignores, rushes about, scatters the rest*
I can’t say that this is always the case — he can dress normally and clean up after himself, but if he doesn’t obey, then he doesn’t obey to the end.”
Our expert Anna Fedosova, AMI Montessori teacher and child psychologist, was asked to answer.
Thank you for clarifying questions. They vividly describe the difficulties that parents often face when they start using an alternative. When applying this method, it is important to pay attention to strategy and tactics.
It is strategically important to realize the depth of the difference between coercion: “do as I tell you”, “I want you to do what I want” and cooperation between you and the child. The use of the word “or” itself is not a magic button, by pressing which you trigger the obedience mechanism.
In fact, you yourself quite accurately described the reason why alternative questions may not work – “the child does not respond to questions that are not related to his problem.” And your child already quite consciously answers you: “at home”, that is, “I don’t want to go or get ready to go for a walk, neither in a dress, nor in a T-shirt.”
The idea is to offer a choice between two situations or actions that are significant for the child. It will be either a choice between something interesting for the child:
– Let’s go outside to eat ice cream or ride cars?
Either the choice between something inevitable:
— Will you dress yourself or will I dress you?
But in any of these cases, you go down to the child’s level, make eye contact, and only then state your proposal. In the case of choosing from the unpleasant, you also kindly, but firmly remind that you are definitely going for a walk. The question is not in this, but in technical details.
If you leave out this essence of cooperation from your proposals, the child ignores your words or becomes annoyed, because, not without reason, he senses your attempt to force him to do something again. If you did not stop the child and did not start a dialogue with him, but unilaterally declare options for collecting toys, then the answer may be a logical protest – scattering toys.
What you demand must be within your power. In the case of toys, for example, if the child is too small and there are too many toys, then he will not be able to assemble them on his own, he will need a lot of your help and guidance. The demand made to an overexcited child who cannot slow himself down can also be overwhelming.
From the point of view of tactics, you, as you can already guess from the above, carefully choose the options themselves, which will constitute the content of the alternative. These are two interesting activities for the child, if the choice is pleasant. Or two understandable and perceived conditions, if these are options to do the undesirable.
For an overexcited child, the most adequate alternative in general may be about his need, and not yours:
— I see that you are very overexcited. You can blow on my nose to calm down. Or I will spin you around and hug you. What will you choose?
If you have entered into a dialogue with a child, refusing both options is the beginning of further conversation:
— Do you want to wear neither a dress nor a T-shirt? I want you to take a walk. How can I help you? Pull up a trouser leg or take it on your knees?
This is a very thin line between confidence with natural demands and flexibility and dialogue with the child. You need to learn to look for it with a child – he is your truest teacher in this matter.
Based on the online course “Development and upbringing of a child from 1 to 3 years”
Photo by Olga Goreva
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What questions should I ask the child? 20 important questions
How do you know if your child is having problems at school? Is it easy for him to communicate with classmates? How and what questions to ask?
If your child is growing up not very sociable, then this may represent
problem. In particular, when asked how he is doing, he gets off
Do you want to know more about your son’s or daughter’s school life? Learn to ask
the child such questions that he will have to answer in detail.
- “What good did you see today?”
The ability to notice the positive even in ordinary, banal things is an important skill that will be useful to a growing person throughout his life.
- “If you had a magic wand, what would you change about the day before?”
With this question you will help your child learn to dream, awaken his fantasy and imagination.
- “What was unusual about today?”
Children see the world around them a little differently than adults, and they are able to notice little things that elude our perception. At the same time, everyone wants to share their emotions and impressions with someone.
- “What would you like to do tomorrow/summer/in your life?”
Dreams inspire, so it is important to teach a child such an important skill as the ability to dream.
- “What should a good friend be like?”
This question is about how your child perceives friendship.
- “Who are you friends with at school and why exactly with him (her)?”
Do you know all the friends of your son or daughter? If not, try paying a little more attention to this aspect.
- “What traits in your friend’s character do you like and what do you not?”
Children feel falsehood very easily, distinguish lies from truth, at least in relation to adults. With peers, the situation may be different. If this is the case, gently tell the child how best to act in a given situation.
- “What do you like to play at recess?”
Not all children immediately find their friends, some spend time all alone, and you may not even know about it. This question will help you understand whether your child is comfortable with classmates, whether other children accept him in their games. Support the baby if he is having a hard time in the team.
- “Have you done anything that you now regret?”
The child may be worried about something and he cannot put it into words. Approach the topic from the other side: offer to draw or play with toys. According to the chosen plot, you can guess what happened at school.
- “Which lesson would you like to add to the schedule?”
Sometimes the program seems too boring or easy for the student, especially if he has been taught a lot before school. Then it makes sense to think about circles, sections, additional classes of interest. Ask his opinion on this matter.
- “What annoys you the most at school?”
Every child has favorite and least favorite teachers and classmates, easy and difficult subjects. Give him the opportunity to share his thoughts and experiences with his parents, and not keep everything to himself.
- “What was the food in the school cafeteria today? What do you like to eat the most?
Children often cheat when answering questions about food. You have to be smart to find out the truth.
- “How do you imagine your dream school?”
If your child does not have good relationships with teachers and classmates, and the school itself does not meet your requirements for an ideal educational institution, consider transferring. Discuss this issue with your son or daughter and make a decision together.
- “How would you describe your best day?”
An easy-to-understand question that allows you to determine the state of the child at a given time.
- “Why are you offended by adults and peers?”
Sometimes students hide the fact that teachers treat them rudely or teach their subject poorly. If you have any doubts, try to speak frankly with your son or daughter, talk to the parents of other children.
- “Why do you think there is so little reading now?”
In the era of the Internet, this issue becomes especially relevant. Try at least sometimes to take away gadgets from your child and switch his attention to books.
- “What new things would you like to learn?”
Children are always interested in everything that happens around them. Support and, if possible, develop the talents and abilities of your child.
- “What can make a person smarter?”
Sometimes you can philosophize with the whole family. Respect the child’s opinion, but don’t be afraid to argue with him and express your own thoughts.
- “What brings you happiness?”
Conversations on such topics will never be superfluous. Try to show imagination and lightness.
- “What do you dream about before falling asleep?”
With age, people tend to devalue the meaning of dreams in their lives. Let the children at least enjoy the inner state of flight!
By asking such possibly childish questions, you will teach your child to express his
thoughts, think about the important, better understand yourself and your desires. And you can
better to know and understand your own child.