Written by: Karin Hurt and David Dye
Questions are a remarkable way to grow confidence in children. Great questions work because they cause children to stop and think. To reflect. To pause and consider what’s going on in their lives and in the world around them. Kids are natural questioners. So why not tap into that curiosity as you work to help build their confidence and leadership skills?
Today we answer the very important question, how can we grow confidence in children, with more questions. Questions you can ask to help your children continue to grow toward becoming remarkable leaders and human beings.
Framed well—powerful, open-ended questions can help children gain a better understanding of their skills and abilities as well as to consider the contribution they’re already making in the world. Here are a few of the favorites we’ve used over the years in raising our own children and in work with other youth.
Asking any one of these questions can be the start of a great conversation. And of course, it gives you a remarkable opportunity to listen well. Nothing builds confidence faster than truly being heard.
Questions to Help Children Tap into Their Strengths
1. Would you please draw a picture of something you do very well?
2. What are some of the nicest things your friends say about you?
Okay, this one’s old school Mister Rogers, but it’s a keeper.
3. What makes you special?
4. Let’s make a list of 10 things you are really good at. Which of these make you most proud and why?
Questions to Help Cultivate Awareness and Compassion
5. How did you help someone today?
6. I’m so happy about how you help our family. What do you think are some of the biggest ways you help?
7. What do you think that person is feeling right now?
8. When they’re aware they’ve hurt someone: How can you apologize?
Questions to Help Children Overcome Setbacks
Almost any kind of “how can you?” question works well here.
9. How can you be most helpful in this situation?
10. What else could you try?
Nothing builds confidence faster than tapping into past success.
11. Have you ever had something like this happen before? What did you do then to fix the problem?
12. When they make a mistake and spill or break something, rather than freak out, ask: And now what do you do?
Questions to Encourage Children to Try Something New
13. What worries you most about _________?
14. Remember when you were so scared to try _________? And now it’s ________ (one of your favorite things to do, places to go…)
15. Remember when mommy/daddy did ______? I was super scared too. What do you think were some of the ways I helped myself to become braver?
16. When facing an overwhelming problem: What is the smallest thing you can do to solve this? (eg: Pick up a single sock. Take out a sheet of paper. Once that is done, ask again: Now what is the smallest thing can do?)
Questions to Help Children Take a Stand
17. What is one problem in your community that more than ten people you know want to solve? What could you do in the next week to help make that better?
18. Why does that make you so angry? What do you think you could say to help your friends understand how you feel?
Super Secret Bonus Question
When asking these questions your kid might respond with an “I don’t know.” That’s when the super secret bonus question comes in.
19. Let’s pretend you did know. What would you do then?
Sometimes kids (and grown-ups too) get stuck when asked for solutions. They’re afraid to sound stupid or that it might not be the “right” answer. By moving the conversation into the imagination, it helps them tap into their natural creativity and makes it safe to explore options, rather than having to be “right.”
What is one of your favorite questions to help grow confidence and leadership in children?
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