Use open-ended questions to open dialog
One way to create such a climate is to use open-ended questions regularly. An open-ended question prompts the child to answer in more than one-word responses. For example, take the following closed-ended questions and see how easily they can be turned into more interactive questions:
So why is this important? It builds trust and rapport, helps with problem solving, and allows your child to vent when things aren't going so well. The key is to first ask important questions using the open-ended method, then remain quiet and listen closely to what your child says. Unfortunately, some parents do a good job of using open-ended questions, but fail when it comes to allowing their child ample time to respond.
Here are some quick pointers on how you can improve communication with your child:
- Whenever possible, use open-ended questions when inquiring about your child's practices and games.
- After you ask an open-ended question, stop talking and give your child ample time to think through and respond to your question fully (this means allowing her to finish, too!).
- As your child responds to your questions, maintain a positive, healthy body language that allows for an open atmosphere. Head nods and "uh-hmms" can show you are tuned in.
- If you are unclear about what your child is saying, or if you need additional information, try clarifying, summarizing, or paraphrasing.
- When it comes to youth sports, especially with some of the inherent risks involved (i.e. sports burnout, supplement abuse, etc.) it's important to develop strong communication skills with your child. Open-ended questions will help you build stronger relationships and help you prevent (or quickly address) potential problems your child may be experiencing.
Read Dr. Stankovich's new book, Sports Success 360! The book gives coaches, parents and student athletes life strategies for performance and character development.
- Getting ready for games(May 2010)
- Hazing in youth sports(April 2010)
- The top 5 transferable athletic skills(March 2010)
- Watch for kids hiding injuries (February 2010)
- Using sports for confidence development (January 2010)
- Reader questions for the Sports Doc (December 2009)
- How sports can help kids with disabilities (November 2009)
- When should kids start working out? (October 2009)
- Multiple kids, multiple sports (September 2009)
- How to get kids to try sports (August 2009)
- The do's and don'ts of summer sports (July 2009)
- Failed school levies and athletics (June 2009)
- What is sport sampling? (May 2009)
- How to talk sports with kids (April 2009)
- Your child's team is not a babysitter (March 2009)
- Dealing with pressure (February 2009)
- Does your child have sports burnout? (January 2009)
- Help your child overcome 'choking' (December 2008)
- Help your child see challenges instead of fear (November 2008)
- You've got questions the Sports Doc has answers (October 2008)
- Interview with former gymnast Dayna Goen (September 2008)
- The psychology of injury recovery (August 08)
- Getting into the zone (July 08)
- Embracing the process of youth sports (June 08)
- Help your child handle cuts (May 08)
- Student athletes can positively affect non-athletes (April 08)
- Developing a personal portfolio (March 08)
- Athletes and risk-taking behaviors (February 08)
- Parents' unfulfilled dreams sometimes forced on child (January 08)
- 2007 Sports Doc archive
Dr. Chris Stankovich offers individual athletic counseling and team/league seminars. Read Dr. Stankovich's new book, Sports Success 360. The book gives coaches, parents and student athletes life strategies for performance and character development. Visit drstankovich.com for more details.