When was the last time you asked your child to help you with a problem?
Instead of always giving advice to our kiddos – sometimes even before they’ve asked for it – it’s good to turn the tables and ask for their advice sometimes. I find this works well with kids of all ages, not just tweens and teens.
I ask Z for advice on all kinds of things, from situations with friends to fashion choices to how we should decorate our new kitchen or where we should go out for dinner. She’s used to being consulted in this way.
There are so many reasons to do this. First, it can get kids to open up and talk with you in a way that asking about their day may not. Our 12-year-old is always happy to offer me advice and solutions, even if she doesn’t feel like sharing what’s on her mind.
Second, you may get truly great advice. Young people have a unique perspective and their input and solutions may surprise you. I’ve been shocked many times when Z, with her heightened sensitivity and intuition, has come up with a perfect, emotionally calibrated response to many grown-up issues or conversations.
Third, it’s a great way to teach good decision-making and problem-solving skills without it feeling like a lesson. Everyone likes to be asked for their advice, including kids of all ages. Asking for someone’s advice makes them feel wanted and needed – and be sure to let kids know if you’ve used their advice and had a great experience!
Asking kids for advice also normalizes the fact that everyone struggles sometimes. Adults don’t have all the answers, and neither do kids. Talking together and brainstorming solutions with others are a great way for anyone, of any age, to puzzle out the right path forward.
Lastly, your kids may be more likely to ask for your advice when you’ve modeled that behavior by asking for theirs. If it feels more like a mutual relationship with both parties giving and receiving, they may be more likely to open up.
You know me – I’ll do just about anything to get my kiddo talking. Asking for her advice is a sure-fire way to get a good conversation going, learn more about my tween and more than likely get some great advice in the process.
That said, I will note that with anxious kiddos, it’s important to not put too much on their shoulders. Let them know that you would like their input, but that you are perfectly able to find a solution yourself, too. Don’t ever let anxious kids feel that you aren’t handling things well or that you can’t cope. It’s good to get their advice, but in a calm and matter-of-fact way that won’t stress them out.
Have you asked your kids for advice lately? Give it a shot today, and be sure to let me know how it all worked out by leaving me a comment below or over on Instagram or Facebook.