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100 Questions to Ask Your Kids

Getting Kids Interested
The questions in this book are organized around a lot of topics that kids want to know about – often about you. They are also organized around questions that help you and your children to be introspective. A little navel gazing isn't bad – adults pay psychologists a high fee to help them do it, so it's fun and inexpensive to do it this way, not in crisis, just exploring. Kids want to know you – the real you, the sometimes-imperfect you – and this helps them get backstage, behind the parent performance you find yourself doing despite your desire to do the contrary.

And because disclosure invites reciprocity, your openness will encourage their openness and their interest. At the end of these conversations you should all feel you know each other – and yourselves – a little better. This is a lot of fun. So once you do this, you will all want to do it again (provided you don't let the game go on too long). However, there is always the issue of getting kids interested enough to try it. So here is the way to get them intrigued: turn to the first page of questions that kids can ask parents.

Ask if any of those sound interesting. I think at least one of them will sound enticing, except perhaps for very young children. (This book works best for kids in middle school and older, but some younger kids are so with it that they will have no problem at all getting into the spirit of asking questions. We've had five-year-olds ask and answer some of these questions as if they were on a T.V. game show.) Then show your Kids some of the questions that you could ask them – a lot of them will be questions that they will want to answer: questions about their favorite music, why they like for don't like) heavy metal bands, the three most disgusting foods they have eaten at home, etc. Wouldn't you have liked to tell your parents the answer to "What meal would you prefer never to have again?" (assuming, of course, they could be good sports about it)?

If you promise that you'll only play for half an hour (or less, depending on your kids), most kids will be open to trying the game. You can always re-up for another half an hour if everyone still wants to keep going. Just lay out the rules right at the beginning – and make sure everyone agrees. They are:

1. No answer is stupid. No grimacing, eye rolling, or in any way laughing at someone unless they are saying something funny.

2. Everyone gets to answer without interruption. Follow-up questions are allowed ("But I thought you liked beets!"), but follow-up answers aren't required. "Nope" will suffice (as an answer to the follow-up). However, if the person wants, they can do a whole riff on the history of beet hating – you asked, after all.

3. Questions that hit a recent sore spot should be avoided if at all possible. For example, if your child has just missed making the team or been dumped by a major heartthrob, you might want to avoid those kinds of questions the first couple of times you play the game (unless you think he or she wants to talk about love and its disappointments).

4. Everyone is, in fact, allowed to avoid two questions per game – more if they really insist upon it. This has to be fun, remember? We want kids to insist that time gets saved before bedtime to play 201 – so better to lose one answer than to lose their interest and confidence in the whole game.

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From the book 201 Questions to Ask Your Kids by Pepper Schwartz, published by HarperResource, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. Copyright 2000 by Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D. All rights reserved.

Buy the book at www.harpercollins.com.


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