What do parents really want for their children? Let’s assume that all parents want their kids to be happy-period. Not happy and … a doctor, a lawyer, an artist, rich, healthy, … just happy.
Most kids come out happy and carefree and then what happens? Adults tell kids to stop being happy and get serious. Parents don’t trust their kids to do what will make them happy. They believe they know what is best for their child without even knowing what their child wants. Parents may not even be aware of the damage they are doing because they are trying their best to follow in the ways of the world that dictate the seriousness of life. What would the world be like if more people were happy doing what they are doing regardless of what that is?
So how do adults empower kids to be happy? What if kids were asked empowering questions that would bring more awareness instead of questions that judge and create limitations? What if adults allowed kids to make choices without being locked into the outcome? What if adults were willing to allow their kids to discover what works for them and what doesn’t work, knowing that the results are not failure but more discoveries?
As adults we often believe that we need to have the answers for our kids. But how much does it empower them to ask a question instead of delivering what our answer would be? By asking questions, we can actually let them know that we trust them to choose what they would like to explore to see if that will create the life they desire. What kinds of questions bring more choice for kids? Some questions that I have experienced work well are questions that open up more possibilities and don’t create more judgment and limitations.
Empower Kids with Choice
Imagine, 8 year old Darren would like to sleep over at a friend’s house on Friday night. This would be his first time to sleep away from home. His mother can tell that he is excited to go, and also a bit hesitant at being away for the first time. His mother chooses to ask some questions in order to allow Darren to choose for himself whether to go or not. A question like, “How do you feel about spending the night away from home?” Darren responds, “I’m not sure. I want to go and have fun with my friend, but I’m nervous about sleeping someplace else.” Mother counters with, “What would it take for you to feel more comfortable?” It is important to let the child see what else is possible as this empowers him to discover that he can begin to see different possibilities which will give him confidence for future choices. He ponders it a bit and then says, “If I find out that I am too lonely can I call you to come and get me?” If Mother says, “That works for me,” without any judgment attached, Darren will go to the sleep over feeling confident. How would Darren feel if his mother had added a statement like, “Yes you can call me but you really are a big boy now and I am sure you will be fine”? If Darren has the need to call, he is going to think that his mother doesn’t think he is a big boy and he won’t feel comfortable calling her. He may even struggle through the night by not calling and feel very uneasy. This would not be a happy child or event.
Some common questions that parents can begin to use with their children are:
· What else is possible for this situation?
· What would it take for you to accomplish that?
· How well does that work for you?
· Do you require any assistance?
· How does that feel to you? Are you comfortable with that?
Asking questions can be the best tool that you equip your child with as they learn that they too don’t have to have all of the answers but can see what wonderful possibilities show up from which to choose.