To Answer or Not to Answer: That is the Question
Updated: Mar 3, 2020
If you were in the studio this week, you would hear kids asking questions…lots of them. Kids are indeed capable of asking questions. As a matter of fact, they excel in this area. If you think about it logically, of course they have all become experts in the ‘question asking’ arena. Why wouldn’t they be connoisseurs? They have been exposed to them since birth.
We all use questioning through the early developmental stages of a child’s life. These questions are used to guide a child as they discover the world around them. When you ask a one year old to find a ball, they find the ball through pointing or locating. If you ask a four-year-old what they wear on their head when it is cold, they likely can tell you, locate one, and place it where it belongs. Developmental milestones are measured by the questions our toddlers are asking. I find the conversations that occur with toddlers naturally lead them towards self-discovery and independence.
Communication though begins to change dramatically. For years, I haven't been able to figure out the why behind this. I am still not claiming that I have it all figured out, but I pose the question: Could it be because we begin to answer for our children? Maybe your kids are different, but I often find my children question me for three reasons:
1) They want something.
2) They want me to do, tell, or help with something that they THINK they can’t do on their own.
3) They want me to do something that they don’t FEEL like figuring out or doing on their own.
For years, I have fallen victim to thinking the examples above are okay because maybe they were developmental norms. This is where things began to get tricky. By being quick to rescue: I was answering too much instead of allowing them to navigate uncharted territory; I was making them do things that I thought were valuable, but in the long run are in fact SO NOT; I was working way harder than they were on household maintenance as they sat back and binge watched the first three episodes of Star Wars.
In retrospect, they were feeling they couldn’t do things on their own. Of course, they didn’t think they could do things on their own! I had been enabling their ability to work harder because maybe everything “was” to hard.
I was trying to create an easier life for me, yet it wasn’t my life. They create, as I step back, a little further each year, to guide.
Kids are smart. They understand at a early age how to use the manipulation card. If I knew I was instantly going to get an answer, I would ask questions too! As a mom and former teacher, I will admit that I have found myself (many times) just answering while at home and in the classroom. In the short term, it makes everything less problematic.
From homework help, to “almost” doing projects, or replacing the batteries in the remote myself even though I never turn the tv on, I wasn’t helping to develop what we ALL need to navigate the one life we are so blessed to be living: GRIT. I was putting a Band-Aid on a gaping wound. I had the prideful stance of “I’ll Just Do It Myself” as if I were a superhero and this my motto.
From homework help, to “almost” doing projects, or replacing the batteries in the remote myself even though I never have the tv on, I wasn’t helping to develop what we need to navigate life well: GRIT. I was putting a Band-Aid on a gaping wound. I had the prideful stance of “I’ll Just Do It Myself” as if I were a superhero and this my motto.
The only thing it serves is a catered meal to our youth. We need to change the mindset of learners as we guide them towards discovery. They need confidence to know, understand, and believe that THEY CAN DO ALL THINGS!
My children will be ON a Chromebook and ask me how to spell something. In the words of Regis Philbin and the show, Who Want’s to Be a Millionaire, I lovingly tell them to “phone a friend” via google, a sister, or peer, but I am not their person for this type of information.
If I continue to spoon feed my kids, will I put handcuffs on their future?
In the studio, a learner asked aloud if she lived in the east. This led to a discussion about how that could be figured out. This then led to a discussion about NASA making it to the moon with less technology than everyone had in front of them right now. Their minds were blown, and the mindset shift in the room was palpable. It was silent, but perspectives were being stretched.
If NASA made it to the moon with way less, I think shooting for the stars is the only option.