The purpose of curiosity questions is to guide our children as they learn about the world around them. The word “education” comes from the Latin root “educare,” which means “to draw forth.” Most parents try to “stuff in” and then wonder why their children don’t seem to listen or remember it. Curiosity questions help us get into our child’s world by learning to really listen and “draw forth” rather than trying to “stuff in.” Curiosity questions not only help our children develop the critical thinking skills necessary for making decisions in life, they also help our children feel a sense of belonging and significance – their voice and their viewpoint is heard and valued.
Sometimes curiosity questions can be very simple (one question), and sometimes they can involve more questions to help children explore the consequences of the choices (as opposed to imposing consequences on them).
Notice your own resistance to just listening without trying to fix it or change a thing. Notice how difficult it is to listen to what your child has to say without wanting him or her to give you the answer you hope they will give. Practice the act of listening anyway…again, and again, and again.
Problem Solving with Curiosity Questions
What is your picture of what is going on regarding…(getting ready for school, brushing teeth, cutting school, television use, etc.)?
What’s your plan for… (getting dressed, picking up your markers, finishing your school work)?
What do you think would be some benefits for you if you… (do your homework, go to bed earlier, help around the house,
What do you see as some problems for you if you don’t… (any of the above)?
What do you see as some solutions to this problem that would be respectful to all concerned?
When using curiosity questions it’s important to ask only one curiosity question, then sit quietly and listen while your child answers. The only exception to breaking your silence during this listening phase is to remain curious by asking:
Could you tell me what you mean by that?
Will you tell me more?
Could you give me an example of when that happened?”
More Examples of Curiosity Questions
What do you need to do so your teeth won’t feel skuzzy?
What are you taking so you won’t be cold outside?
What is next in your bedtime routine chart?
What is your plan for doing your homework?
How can you and your brother solve this problem together?
What are our family agreements about what to do with our dishes when we have finished eating?
What do you need to do so you can catch the bus on time?
What words can you use so I can better understand you?
What is your responsibility when you are finished playing with your toys?
*This information is adapted from “Teaching Parenting the Positive Discipline Way” by Jane Nelson and Lynn Lott