Meaningful Conversations with Children
I spend a lot of time with my grandchildren. I very much enjoy their open minds and endless wealth of creativity. Often we have wonderful dialogues, where we share our observations about the world. I try to do more listening than talking, and focus on asking good questions that will be interesting for the kids to answer. When spending time with my two grandchildren, I try to avoid using the following two questions:
#1 – How was school?
#2 – What do you want to be when you grow up?
I have noticed that these two questions are asked most often, and that most children automatically give standard answers to them without thinking. Also I have noticed that most children have a hard time learning through listening. At the same time, they learn well through deep conversations. So, every time we drive somewhere, or walk from a class, I try to engage my grandkids into meaningful conversations. I believe that such dialogues develop their ability to observe, which is the path to wisdom. Today my grandson Nic and I had an interesting conversation when we were driving home from his music lesson. I would like to share it with you.
Nic: How come my teacher is teaching me so well?
Victoria: What do you mean?
N: Anne explains everything to me; when I make mistakes, she doesn’t yell at me. And my lessons go so fast that I don’t even notice how my class is over.
V: I think your teacher is teaching you so well because she has integrity.
N: What is that?
V: Integrity is a quality when a person is unable to do something bad. For example, you cannot hit a dog with the stick, can you?
N: No I can’t.
V: What if I will offer you $10 and ask you to hit the dog with a big stick?
N: No I can’t do it even for $10 either.
V: What if somebody will offer you $1000 to hit the dog with a big stick, would you do it?
N: (Nic is thinking.) Maybe I could slowly touch the dog with a stick for a $1000?
V: The dogs are afraid of sticks. When someone approaches a dog with a stick in his hand, the dog becomes scared.
N: Then how come the dogs like to chase sticks?
V: Those sticks are small and the owner throws the branch away from the dog, not at the dog.
N: Ah, I see. How do people get integrity?
V: I think we are all born with integrity but then later we often lose it.
N: How come?
V: What do you think?
N: I don’t know.
V: What makes a boy to hit the dog with a stick?
N: He is a bad boy?
V: Keep thinking. Imagine yourself being that boy.
N: Maybe he forgot how the dog feels? Maybe he is angry?
V: Yes, Nic, this is my observation also, when people become angry they lose their integrity.
N: Sometimes I get angry with my sister.
V: Tell me, what would you prefer, to live in the world full of angry people, or full of people with integrity?
N: People with integrity.
V: That would be nice, wouldn’t it?
N: Yeah. And the dogs will be happier too.
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