Benefits of asking questions instead of giving answers

These points are offered as an alternative to advice giving. While written especially with children in mind, I have found using questions (along with a bit of genuine empathy) as effective tools to support adults as well.

• Questions help children explore dimensions of a problem.

• Questions help children explore their available options.

• Questions help children identify their goals and intentions.

• Questions draw solutions from the child.

• Questions communicate your trust in the child’s ability to solve a problem.

• Questions place the responsibility for finding a solution on the child.

• Questions allow you to help the child anticipate probable outcomes of various choices, helping her evaluate the choices she has.

• Questions build confidence and independence in problem solving.

The process of asking instead of telling puts you in the role of facilitator or guide, rather than rescuer. It helps build skills and confidence kids can rely on when an adult isn’t around to tell them what to do.

Imagine the learning your child can experience when you ask questions like, “How would you like your friend to treat you?” “What have you already tried?” “What else can you do?” “What might happen if you do that?” “How will you feel if that happens?” or “What else can you do?” Compare this process to what she learns when you simply say, “Well, just ignore her,” or “Go play with somebody else.” Even though a solution might be quite evident to you, there is great value in your child exploring the problem and possible solutions with you as her guide!

Excerpt from The Parent’s Little Book of Lists: Do’s and Don’ts of Effective Parenting, by Dr. Jane Bluestein, © 2021, Father Sky Publishing, Albuquerque, NM.

© 1997, 2012, 2021, 2022, Dr. Jane Bluestein

Related Resources:

An Alternative to Advice Giving: Questions to guide problem solving

Product: “Ask—Don’t Tell” (Article reprint by Dr. Bluestein)

Podcast: The Choice is Yours: Connecting the Dots with Dr. Lynn Collins

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