Youth Work Skills: Conversation
As a youth worker I quickly learned that mastering the art of conversation with young people should be a high priority. Children and teens mainly talk about themselves, their needs, and what interests them. A youth worker can draw out a child by asking well thought-out questions. Youth then become comfortable conversing and that paves the way for those times when children are ready for meaningful conversation. They have learned to trust you because you were interested in what they had to say.
The same principle applies to your grandchildren. Knowing how to converse with them will help you impact their lives more deeply when those magic moments come.
Alas! If you are like me you realize that many young people are not familiar with the art of having a good conversation. You need to ask them a lot of questions before they ask you one. You have probably had a conversation like this:
“How are you?”
That question, the one everyone asks, “How are you?”, doesn’t get you anywhere when it comes to really discovering what is going on in someone’s day or someone’s life. No meaningful information has passed between you. You could have said: “I am acknowledging your presence.” And they could have said, “Thank you.”
To move into a real conversation requires deliberate follow-up questions.
Ten questions to ask your grandchildren after, “How are you?”
- What did you have for lunch?
- What made you smile today?
- What was your favorite class?
- Who did you play with today and what did you do?
- Did you do anything that was kind to anyone?
- Was anyone mean to you? Did you forgive them?
- What will you do this evening?
- What will you give thanks to God for at bedtime tonight?
- Why does grandma ask you so many questions?
- Do you have any questions you want to ask me?
Use these questions, or come up with your own. Depending on the child, you may need to adjust the questions to draw out more specific answers or you may need to ask more general questions to encourage conversation.
Getting to know your grandchildren better is one result of asking good follow-up questions. The last question — “Do you have any questions you want to ask me?” — is the perfect one for helping them learn to master the “give and take” of conversation skills. Once they learn to do that, be prepared for deeper and more meaningful questions to come your way.
Like a youth worker, a strategic grandparent thinks ahead about conversing with youth.
Pili Galvan is the Director of Grandly: The Strategic Grandparents Club
Copyright © 2018 Grandly: The Strategic Grandparents Club.