How to Engage Your Kids While Everyone Is Quarantined.
As many of us become work from home parents, and our kids become at home due to school cancelations, we have several options in front of us. First, we can resent it all. Second, we can despair. Or perhaps, thirdly, we can use it for hope. Maybe you have a great relationship with your children, or maybe you have been limping by for a few of those teenage years. But now you are stuck with them. So here are three questions you can ask your kids while you’re quarantined at home. Just to be clear, asking the question is not enough. You have to listen and engage in the conversation.
What does being quarantined at home make possible?
This question is designed to give confidence. It acknowledges that the ideal isn’t present and may not be for some time. It allows everyone to move blame off of the parent, school system or whatever and onto the circumstances of life. As you ask the question, project that not only will the next little bit of time be hard, but that you as a family can make it through better and not by the skin of your teeth (though we all know as adults there is sometimes a razor-thin edge between making it and not).
Fair Warning: if you have angry teenager, you are probably going to get a terrible response. They may storm off because all they are thinking about is how much they have lost by being stuck at home for who knows how long. That doesn’t mean the question doesn’t deserve to be asked. It reframes the situation in a positive light and can open up the natural creativity of the teenage brain. Then do it with them (tempered by adult frontal lobe development but go with it).
Fair warning: if you have little ones, their response might make you cry. They might just be excited you are going to be around more often. This means you are going to set up boundaries and work to keep them. It also means that you are going to get a really sweet window into their soul.
Who do you want to be when you grow up?
Many people ask what do you want to do or what do you want to be when you grow up. It’s a mistake. The better question is who do you want to be when you grow up. We might think this question is more important for the little ones, but don’t underestimate the power of this question for teenagers. Having worked with youth for several years in college, I have found the “who” question to get me a lot further than almost any other question.
Pro Tip: have someone you wanted to be when you grow up in mind and why? That’s the follow up to this question. Yet, by having someone in mind for yourself, you can speak to the character traits that made that person desirable. It usually isn’t about the job or money. It is about what they did or how they acted with it.
How do you think/feel about being quarantined at home?
Whether you ask feel or think depends on the kid. My son, I would ask about how he would feel just like my wife. She never asks me how I feel though. She asks me what I think.
It might feel a little to simple or a little to direct, but I have found that if you are prepared to be a little vulnerable the question can create some bonding around what is a tough situation for everyone.
What do you think?
Have you had any success with questions you asked you kids while you’re quarantined at home? Let me know in the comments or by email. We are going to be confined together for a while. A little bit of effort up front is going to be well worth the investment in the long term.