Without a doubt, conversations with our children can be easier. Simple life coaching skills will make this possible.
First, think about what tends to stop the exchanges with our children. Following is the antithesis of easy life coaching skills:
One-word answers from them, like, "good" and, "O.K."
- For example, "How was your day, buddy?" "Great."
- Also, "How are you doing today?" "Fine."
Usually, we parents continue asking informational questions, such as:
- "What time did you get home?"
- And, "Have you eaten yet?"
- Also, "When are you starting your homework?"
Most of the time, conversations with our children that go like this occur as interrogatory tedium to them.
Following are a couple more ways that we shorten our interactions with them:
Often, we ask yes/no questions, such as. . .
- "Do you have homework?"
- "Have you done your chores?"
- "Do you have plans tonight?"
Similarly, we ask this/that questions, like. . .
- "Do you want pizza or pasta for dinner?"
- "Do you have piano or soccer tonight?"
- "Should we leave at 6 or 6:30?"
Unfortunately, these one-word answers leave us parents frustrated with our conversations with our children.
In my experience, our children don't enjoy them anymore than we do.
Fortunately, easy life coaching skills for parents will make the conversation more interesting.
First, use your child's language to ask an open-ended question, not an informational, this/that, or yes/no question:
For example, "How was your day, buddy?" "Good."
Then, "What was good about it?"
- Here, the word, "good," that the child used, is a key word in the question.
- For sure, using the child's words in your questions sends the message that you are really listening.
- Your child might respond like this: "Well, I had a fun lunch with my friends."
Here, a typical conversation with our children can default to an informational question, such as:
- "Which friends did you go to lunch with?"
- Or, "Where did you go for lunch?"
- And, "What did you eat for lunch?"
But, if you use the easy life coaching techniques of continuing with open-ended questions, and using your child's language, you're likely to create a far more provocative exchange:
- For example, "What was fun about it?"
- Your child might respond, "I don't know. They're just really good friends, and we had a good time."
This could be an excellent opportunity to use yet more simple coaching techniques: curiosity and asking permission.
For example, "I'm curious. You said that they're really good friends. Do you mind if I ask you what a good friend is to you?"
Or, you could launch right in: "What's a good friend to you?"
Clearly, this is a deeper inquiry, and your child may or may not want to go there.
Importantly, when parents ask permission to explore something, they should accept whatever answer they get.
For example, your child could respond, "No. I don't really feel like talking about this right now."
Definitely, if this is the answer you get, be gracious, and let it go. But, do make a request to talk about it later.
- "I understand. You don't what to talk about it. Could we talk about it another time, please?"
- Likely, your child will respond, "Sure. We can talk about it another time."
- Why? Because you didn't force the conversation. You respected your child's boundaries.
On the other hand, if your child gives you permission, continue practicing easy life coaching skills.
- For example, "Sure, we can talk about it."
- Next, "Great. Thank you. What's a good friend to you?"
- "Hmmm. Someone who's smart and funny."
Here, the parent could default to informational, this/that, or yes/no questions, such as:
"Which one of your friends is smart and funny."
- To be clear, this isn't a "bad" question. It's just not an open-ended question.
In order to continue with simple life coaching skills, ask:
- "What else is a good friend to you?"
- "To what degree are you a good friend?"
- "How do you think good friends impact other areas of your life?"
- "How do you know when someone is a bad friend?"
- When you've been a bad friend, how do you clean it up?"