Forward-Focused Questioning with Kids

At the beginning of this year, I made it a goal to be more aware of what there is to be grateful for in my life. I am also trying to have a more “half cup full” mentality. During a series of leadership training, I have recently been introduced to forward-focused questions. The intention is to have your mind gravitate toward positive solutions to questions or thoughts. As someone who honestly believes that everything happens for a reason, the timing of these training sessions was perfect.

The Questions

Scrolling through social media, I often find videos or images reminding us all to think positively. But why, at times, does this seem easier said than done? I am in control of my own thoughts, aren’t I? I learned that negative self-talk occurs so easily in our minds. Our brain is constantly looking for answers to questions. One tactic to combat negative self-talk is using forward-focused questions to help guide our minds to find positive answers.

What exactly are forward-focused questions? Basically, they are questions framed in a positive light. Some simple examples are: What am I grateful for? What am I really good at? What about my partner/child/work do I enjoy? At the time, I noticed my son was making more negative statements than I cared for, such as “I can’t do it, Mommy” or “It’s too hard” without even trying. I thought it was a phase that would pass. After reflecting on this technique, I immediately tried practicing this at home with him.

Forward-Focused Family

I’ll admit that it wasn’t easy at first. He would give me answers to the tune of “I don’t know” or shrug his shoulders and pout. My heart did break a little realizing that this was a challenging task for him. I also instantly knew that I was doing right by him in asking him these questions. At first, I wrote down a bunch of forward-focused questions relevant to a four-year-old. “What was your favorite part of the day at school?” and “What about your teacher made you happy today?” were a couple questions. After a few days, I realized that I didn’t need to ask a different question every day. I just needed to frame his mind in a positive light by asking the right question.

The Positive Effects

A few weeks into it, I noticed I wasn’t trying to find the right questions anymore – it was just our manner of conversation now. Most days he’s this confident little guy with the best attitude. And I’ve noticed more of these days lately. However, every day doesn’t necessarily go as planned or preferred, but I have proudly calmed myself during his random tantrums and have been able to turn him around by simply asking him better questions. And on those days that don’t go as well, I remind myself that tomorrow is a new day. For the most part, I believe asking forward-focused questions has had a positive effect at home, both with myself and my son.

Jacqueline is a wife and a loving mother to two lively kids. Alongside taking care of her family and working full-time in healthcare, she is a real estate investor and a personal finance writer for Parent Portfolio, aiming to help other parents build wealth. She manages the finances for her household and her small real estate business. She has been featured in Business Insider, USA Today, and Ladders.