As a loving parent, it is important to instill in your kids the right mindset and attitude. Both determine how your child interprets the world. And asking the right questions encourage behavior that brings positive change and also allows for the best use of available resources.
As the saying goes, where your mind goes, energy flows.
One of the ways to encourage children to develop a positive mindset and practice it is to talk to them honestly and ask them leading questions. It’s not about telling them what to do; it’s about explaining to them the value of living positively and making the best of what they already have.
Ask your kids these thoughtful questions to encourage conversation and help them develop a healthy mindset. Some of these questions will also help you to enhance your relationship with your children and bond with them, while learning to better understand them.
1. What five words do you think best describe you?
This question points children in the direction where they know themselves and have an idea of what other people think of them. It gives your child a good frame of reference on where she stands in her small world, which is important for molding the right self-image.
2. What do you love doing that makes you feel happiest?
Some children will say playing video games makes them feel happiest, which is actually fine. Recent studies show that there are actually many psychological benefits of gaming. Gaming even brings spouses closer together if they participate together.
The point of this question is to direct your child’s attention to the things that makes him feel happy and open his eyes to the fact that he can actively choose to increase time spent in those activities that bring him joy. Hopefully, this will teach him to pursue activities, hobbies and even careers that make him happiest later on in life.
3. What do you know how to do that you can teach others?
This question is about teaching kids that life is not all about you, your own interests and what you can get from others. Life is about us all and what we can do to help each other.
The question helps your child feel empowered and valued. It reminds her that she is special and she has something to offer. When your child feels special and knows she has something to offer, it builds self-confidence and self-worth, and also encourages learning.
4. What is the most wonderful/worst thing that ever happened to you?
Life is not all sunshine and rainbows, but neither is it all gloom and doom. Life is a mix of good and bad experiences, and that’s what makes it so exciting.
Kids need to understand this fact early so they are mentally prepared for life. The question is about directing that awareness. It helps your child realize (from her own experience) that bad things don’t last forever.
The sun always shines after the storm, and the sunshine feels good. You also gain valuable insight into areas you can help your child get past.
5. What did you learn from the best/worst thing that’s happened to you?
An old adage says experience is the best teacher, which is true. It is important that kids extract lessons from their own experiences (both good and bad) and also from the experiences of others, including their parents.
That’s one of the best ways to make progress and also the way to make the best of every situation. When your child learns from her experiences, it means she is unlikely to repeat the same or similar mistakes in the future.
6. Of all the things you are learning, what do you think will be the most useful when you are an adult?
This question is about reminding children that they will be adults one day and that they need to start living purposely. It is also about sensitizing your kids to where their conscience is calling them and what they should be doing right now to get there.
When your child understands the value of what he is learning and how it can help him in the future, it can motivate him to truly enjoy things like reading, studying and learning.
7. If you could travel back in time three years and visit your younger self, what advice would you give yourself?
This question can make for a fun conversation that helps you learn about (and address) past issues that hurt your child, in addition to instilling in them the habit of learning from their mistakes. The question opens up exciting avenues to talk to your kids about how to deal with disappointments and frustrations in life, while also teaching them the meaning of the expression, “making lemonade out of lemons.”
8. What are you most grateful for?
This question encourages kids to count their blessings and look at the brighter side of life. It is about teaching kids to put things into perspective, look around and appreciate what they have in life no matter how small, including family, friends, a good school and food.
This, is turn, can contribute to your child’s overall happiness, as there is a strong correlation between gratitude and happiness.
9. What do you think that person feels?
It’s easy for kids to focus solely on their own feelings and neglect to consider what other people feel. However, to build stronger relationships and avoid unnecessary conflicts in life, it is important for your child to consider what other people feel and show empathy.
Help her to develop empathy by asking her to wonder about what someone else feels. Your child will become a more compassionate, helpful and happy person just by being more considerate and empathetic. She will lead a richer, fuller life of meaning by thinking of (and often helping) others.
10. What do you think your life will be like in the future?
This question also directs children to think about the future and plan for it. It will help your child to ponder on what he wants to be when he grows up and how he’d like the world to be like when he’s older.
You will in turn discover what your child is moving toward and see how you can help him realize that dream from the conversation you have around this question.
11. Which of your friends do you think I’d like the most? Why?
The company you keep has a big impact on your mindset and attitude. If you keep negative people around you all the time, your attitude is likely to shift and become negative. If you keep positive friends, you will become positive-minded yourself.
Ask your kids this question to figure out who among their circle of friends holds the greatest influence in their life. Help your child see that everybody is the average of the five people they spend the most time with, as Jim Rohn famously said.
12. If you could grow up to be famous, what would you want to be famous for?
This question directs children to think about the true meaning of success and the legacy they’d like to leave. Is success about accumulating the most money, or is it more than that?
What would you like people to remember you for? As your child ponders and responds to these questions, you will find out the type of character your child is moving toward and discover who influences your child as a role model. That is vital information for overseeing your child’s character development.
13. How would you change the world if you could?
Research shows that anticipation of positive experiences brings more happiness than the experiences themselves. Once your child is old enough to realize that tomorrow is not today and every new day is an opportunity to make a positive change, start instilling in her the habit of striving to relieve ills and improving things in her own small way for the betterment of tomorrow and the world in general.
Happy people are those who think of problems as surmountable and themselves as effective problem solvers.
14. How can you help someone today?
As life in general constitutes much pain in the form of disease, poverty, ignorance and emotional anguish, it is important to give ourselves to one another as brothers and sisters.
Edwin Markham rightly said, “The crest and crowning of all good, life’s final star, is Brotherhood.”
And brotherhood and sisterhood means being there for each other. Ask your kids this question regularly to incorporate a spirit of generosity into their daily life. Studies show that giving releases oxytocin and endorphins, which produce a good kind of “high” that your child can become addicted to.
15. If you could make one rule that everyone in the world had to follow, what rule would you make? Why?
This question brings to the attention of children the fact that we live in a world with rules and regulations, which we are obliged to follow to ensure order and everything runs smoothly. Rules are not meant to punish us, but to help us live and interact with others in a better way.
Your child will appreciate this fact more and be more receptive to following properly laid down rules and regulations when he has his own personal rule that he believes in. That personal rule or motto can be the key to raising respectful, law abiding citizens who are also valuable members of society.
By David K William