Adopting a curious attitude when you talk to your child helps to establish a healthy, open relationship and keep conflict to a minimum. “It’s no surprise that kids don’t like to be judged,” says Siggins. “What can be a surprise is how often parents judge or make assumptions without even realizing it. This shuts conversations down and fractures relationships.”
This is yet another way for parents to model healthy behavior to teach your child how to treat others (i.e., how not to be a jerk). “How you speak to your child in emotional or frustrating moments is how your child learns to speak to others,” explains Higgins. “Rather than judging, get curious to understand what’s going on for your child. Ask them open questions about how they want to solve or resolve their own problems.”
Siggins recommends testing your assumptions about your child — what could you be missing or making up? How do you know it to be true? “This gives them the message that you trust they are capable and value their problem-solving skills and teaches them to be curious and open with others,” she says.
And as a starting point, remember that open questions begin with who, what, when, where, why and how. And “tell me more” is a great way to stay curious if you struggle with a question.