Real and specific questions are most likely to get a response from your child.
Avoid leading questions. Questions that include an answer, such as, “Don’t you want to change your clothes before we leave?” or “Wouldn’t you like to apologize to your sister now?” are really requests, not questions. These questions are likely to provoke a gloomy response, or a plain old “no”.
Instead ask real questions. Questions such as “What you do you like (or dislike) most about school?” will produce real answers. A real question about food might be, “You haven’t been eating much lunch lately. What would you like to have today?” In comparison, a leading question on the same topic would be, “You know you like peanut butter. Don’t you want some?”
Avoid general questions. Whether you have a preschooler or a school-age child, well-meaning but general questions such as “How was school?” often produce only one-word answers, such as “good” or “OK”. General questions often end conversations quickly.
Instead, ask specific questions to inspire productive conversations. Refer to something that happened recently, such as, “Is soccer getting any easier?” These questions work because they draw on your child’s unique experience and therefore draw out specific responses.
Consult with your child about your child
Your child is the best consultant you can find for what your child needs, if you are willing to listen. From the time he was born, your child knew when he was hungry, needed to be changed, when he needed to go to sleep. So ask questions that tap into your child’s self-knowledge.
– Michael Thompson, PhD, co-author of Raising Cain