Anyone who’s parented a teen knows what a challenge it can be to get them to talk. But often, if you can break through their armadillo-like shell, once they start talking it’s really revealing, illuminating, informative, insightful.
Closed questions – ones where the answer can be ‘yes’ or ‘no’ – can be a dream for a monosyllabic teenager. So, unless you’re asking if they’ve unpacked their PE kit, completed their homework or revised for tomorrow’s test, don’t ask closed questions!
Open questions invite fuller responses. Ones that may include emotions and provide information on someone’s understanding of a subject or situation.
But be warned – it’s all in the phrasing! It’s easy to accidentally close a question by adding a few extra words. For example, try “Tell me about your best lesson today” rather than “Can you tell me about your best lesson today?”. If in doubt, quickly rehearse a question in your head so you don’t get caught out by your teen.
So, here’s Swotly’s top five (open) questions to get your teen talking.
Which lesson did you learn most in today? Which lesson did you learn least in? Why was that?
Tell me about the best and worst experiences you had in school today
What part of today were you looking forward to the most? What part were you dreading? Did it live up to your expectations?
On a scale of rubbish to epic, how was your day? Why?
What was the funniest/saddest/best/scariest thing you saw at school today?
Remember, this is about starting a conversation, not grilling your teen for information. Keep it light and see where the answers take you.
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