A few years ago while running a corporate training event we had our participants do quick chats using conversation starter cards as cues. The results were great and it’s a staple for work meetings.
As is often the case I practice on my kids prior to work to gage the flow and effectiveness of the activity.My kids and husband were not amused. Ha! "Corny!", they said! Too bad. This is mom’s job on the line. Play along. So they did. And something magical happened. Amidst the nay saying, some fantastic and insightful conversations occurred. We made it a habit and it has been a winning tool in my parenting war chest.
At the same time I began my completely unscientific and nosey study on conversations. A call it my Target Shopping Cart study. Because most of my eavesdropping occurred while pushing a cart buying things I didn’t know I needed at target. It works like this…..listen to how people talk to their kids in Target. (walmart, Kroger, Costco….store doesn’t matter)
What I found shocked and saddened me. More often than not my peers were talking AT their children, not with them. Lots of directives: Sit down. Be quiet. Don’t move.
Some were harsh: don’t ask for shit. Can’t you see I’m on the phone? Bring your ass here. Yikes….I say to myself, don’t make eye contact. I don’t want none of that.
But I was sad that this was the interaction.
Occasionally I would hear something completely different, intriguing, in fact. These conversations snips included phrases like, how does that make you feel? How would you fix that? What would you…… Whoa, completely different. And I wondered why.
My hypothesis is that mom’s talk with their children the way they were talked to by their own mom. Exhibit #1? Me!! I was raised in the “stay out of grown folks” business era…the “don’t speak unless spoken to” genre! And I wore my old school mom badge like a cloak of armor.
Prior to the cue cards I was asking very little and telling very much. And, what I know now is that I could do better. It is so easy to know everything about your toddler and preschool child. Even in the early grades….got it covered. But how much do you really know about the lil person that comes home after school, devours all of the snacks, has a phone….more like window into who knows what….and shuts their door? YIKES!
Great news! It’s not too late. While they may balk, YOU are the boss, (oh my, there’s that old school mom coming out) a little Q&A may be just what the universe ordered!!
Here’s the challenge: Try it! Use the questions below to pull out those unknown facts about the most important person in your life. Oh, and while you are at it……you don’t have to tell anyone, but the next time you’re in Target….ears open! :-)
As for me, this spring I am going to take my questions to the street: Well, at least to the park.
My 1st annual Walk and Talk. Yup! Dedicated time to just….walk and talk. I’ve invited a community of women of all ages and flavors to dedicate 3 hours to bring their favorite girl (daughter, niece, neighbor, friend) to the park to show them our undivided attention. Cue cards will be provided!
If you are in the Atlantic City area on Saturday, May 7th, join us for what we are calling HAPPY STEPS!
Not able to attend? Click the link for information on sponsoring a girl.
Try the questions. Would love to hear out it goes. Now, that’s a whole lot of RealTalk!!
10 to get you started:
1. What problem do you want to solve when you get out of school?
2. What do you think is better, having tons of friends or one best friend? Why?
3. Super hero strength….what would you choose and why?
4. If I could make dinner for your class what would you want me to make?
5. You have $100 but you have to give it away to help someone else. What would you do with it?6. Where is a place you want to visit?
7. Favorite day of your life so far?
8. You have to pitch why your class should win a prize…what would you say?
9. What is a good argument for school uniforms? (even if you don’t like them)
10. What is your top quality?