Thursday, April 25, 2013

Teaching Children to Ask Questions: Answer It More!

The title of this blog post might seem odd. I mean, we all know that children ask questions--lots of them all the time! However, as children grow up, they will either continue to be avid questioners--or they will stop asking questions.
We wanted our children to ask questions--and lots of them! We wanted to be their answerer as much as possible. Thus, we "trained" them to ask questions--by answering them freely and endlessly.
Ray is the best answerer I have ever met (honest!). He is the one who made me come up with the little acronym that we teach at our parenting seminars. I watched him day in and day out, year in and year out, answer a question. Then he paused and continued on with more answers and more answers and more answers.
He never tired of our children's questions--and when the kids weren't asking questions, he would prod them to do so: "Why do you think that guy directing traffic is wearing an orange vest and not a black one?" "Why do you think that farmer is still in the field on a Saturday night at ten o'clock?" "Why do you think Jesus said that?" He literally trained them in question asking!
No matter where we are, Ray always stops to answer the kids' questions--sometimes even at lunch at a museum! Sometimes on napkins at lunch! Sometimes in the driveway as he plays with the kids. And he always "Answers It More!"
From watching him, I came up with the acronym that we encourage all parents to use. AIM: When your children ask you a question, answer it. Then Answer It More!
 Children will grow up learning to ask questions if we answer their questions freely. For most questions+, use the "Raising Kids With Character" method of AIM: When your children ask you a question, answer it. Then Answer It More! This will help them to become lifelong learners--and responsible thinkers who do not just accept everything that is put before them but truly question what they see and hear in the media, from others, etc.

AIM: Answer It More!

+The exception to our AIM approach was when children asked questions of a sexual nature. Then, as my husband likes to say, tell them just a tiny bit. Then if they ask more, tell them more. Continue in this way with all delicate topics. This way, you are giving them the information that they are ready for--the information that they really asked for. And you are not giving them sexual information that they are not ready for. Ray called these "Daddy Talks"--smile--more on those later!

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