How to Ask Your Child’s Opinion

A big part of a child’s self-esteem is rooted in the feel­ing that his or her feelings and thoughts are valuable and important to a parent, to the family, and to his or her community of friends and schoolmates.

“What do you think?”

“What’s your idea?”

These are questions adults take for granted as com­mon fare in our relationships, especially in our work­place or in daily conversation with spouses and friends. But how uncommon these questions often are in rela­tionships between adults and children! Not that children don’t have thoughts, opinions, or ideas to express. It’s just that adults rarely ask. Perhaps even worse, adults often cut short a child’s attempts to convey ideas and feelings.

Childs Opinion

Do you really know your child’s opinion? Do you know what he or she is thinking, or imagining? Have you asked lately?

Even at very early ages, children begin to form opin­ions, largely in the form of likes and dislikes. They re­spond favorably to some things, reject others. As they experience their world, some events stand out, others don’t. They have ideas about the way things ought to be. Often, their ideas are rooted in fantasy rather than reality. Still, they’ve got an idea and from their perspec­tive, it’s a worthy idea.

Boosting a feeling of self-value in a child can be done simply when an adult, especially a parent, turns to a child in the middle of a conversation, and says, “And what about you? What do you think? How do you feel about this? Do you have any ideas?”

Include your child in dinner time conversation. Take time to hear out his or her ideas.

Don’t criticize your child’s opinions. As opinions, they are as valid as anyone’s. Let your child know that whatever his or her opinion, it’s OK to express it.

Don’t make fun of your child’s ideas. Don’t hack away at your child’s lack of logic or the “unworkable-ness” of your child’s ideas. The process of telling and exploring ideas is, after all, the way your child comes to form ideas and, eventually, to come up with better ideas. Ask your child, “What do you think would hap­pen if we did that?” Or, “Do you think this would work all the time, or just in this particular case?” You may be surprised at the creative twists and turns such a con­versation can take!

Don’t totally discount the validity of your child’s opinion, even if it’s ill-founded. Avoid declaring with a tone of finality, “That’s rubbish.” Instead, say to your child, “I’ll consider that,” or “I’ll take that under advise­ment.” In nearly all cases, a child isn’t nearly as con­cemed that an idea be enacted as he or she is delighted that the idea has been expressed.

The most important result of establishing conversa­tion between adult and child is that a child might remain willing to express his or her thoughts and feelings throughout life. A child who is rarely or never asked for an idea or an opinion is highly unlikely to emerge as a teenager willing to talk freely with a parent about drugs, sex, God, or life goals! A child whose ideas and feelings are never explored or appreciated is unlikely to become an adult who freely expresses opinions to par­ents.

The child with high self-esteem and confidence is a child who can look in the mirror and say, “My ideas have merit. My opinions have validity. My thoughts are worth expressing.” All of these statements are trans­lated within the spirit of the child as: “I have value.” And that feeling is at the very heart of self-esteem!

Filed Under: Family & Relationships


About the Author: Alan Kennon lives a very happy life with two kids and a lovely wife. He likes to share his life time experiences with others about how they can improve their lifestyle and personality.

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