Why You Shouldn’t Ask Your Kids Questions (And What You Should Do Instead)

Do you worry about your child’s speech? Do you think that they should be saying more for their age than they actually are? Maybe you have no concerns about your child’s speech, but you struggle to get them to talk to you. Will they tell you about their day? About their friends? Well by no longer asking your child questions, you might just get the answers that you are looking for, read on or watch the video below to find out how.

I received this advice directly from a speech and language expert

Let’s go back to when my son was diagnosed with autism. At the time of his ASD diagnosis, Will was 3, nearly 4. Although in many areas he was very advanced for his age (for example, he could read quite fluently), he had little or no spontaneous language. Although he would come out with strings of words, they would be sentences he had read or heard on television or even sentences that I had said to him. He was using “scripted speech” and not spontaneous language. In fact, he never used more than 2-3 words on non scripted speech in a sentence.

I was told to stop asking him questions

My initial reaction was shock, horror even, and total confusion. How on earth was I supposed to get him to do anything? What on earth was I going to say to him? I was dumbstruck. Still, in the interest of following advice, I promised to give it a try. In fact, I believe my words to her were “I have no idea how this can possibly work, but I’ll give it a go”.

So I did, and, do you know what? The results were amazing. My son began to speak more and even tell me about things from his day – without being asked!

Heres the how and they why of how asking less questions helps your children to communicate more.

It allows you to model language for them

Often I would ask William “What did you eat for your snack in school?” to which he would reply “What did you eat in school?”. The language that I was modelling was not demonstrating the sort of things that I would expect him to say back to me.

When I switched this wording from a question to a statement things improved. I would now say “I had an apple for my snack this morning” and he would reply “I had banana for my snack”. Suddenly I was providing him with the structure for the sort of sentences that he could make his own.

It takes the pressure away

Although initially, I believed that I would be standing there waxing lyrical about what I had done that morning and being met with silence from my child, the opposite in fact happened. By taking away the pressure of all the bombarding questions, it seemed to open him up to speak more, not less.

When removing all questions seems impossible, think of your hand as a guide

I will admit that minimising the use of questions in my vocabulary was tough enough and removing them altogether seemed impossible, so another friend who is another speech and language therapist and a fellow autism Mum told me this;

Think of your hand, when you need to ask a question, that’s your thumb. Now make sure you use at least four statements, one for each finger, before asking another question.

It takes practice, but I promise that it’s worth it

I must admit that at first this new way of communicating seemed impossible. My husband especially found that he really struggled to rewire his brain into this new way of speaking to our son.

It gets easier

The more you do this, the easier it becomes. Keep in mind the 1 question separated by the 4 fingers on your hand analogy and that will help you.

It’s worth the work

As much as a pain in the rear end it may seem to have to think before you speak, it will not feel difficult forever and the benefits are tremendous. Whether your child has ASD or is neurotypical, this strategy will help them communicate more.

If they have speech and language difficulties, it will help to encourage their speech. If there are no concerns with their speech, it will simply help them to open up a little more by prompting them with the sort of response that you might like.

Give it a go

Commit to trying this for 7 days, then look at the results. If you can then continue on and commit to doing this for 21 days, you will have created a habit. At this stage it will become easier for you to implement and for your children to communicate.

Why not pin this for later?

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