Asking What do you think? is one way to give your kids more of a sense that they have influence in the family. But sometimes “I don’t know” is all you get in response.

One very powerful way to encourage a more thoughtful reply is to start the conversation with a set up. Here are some examples:

“I would like your input on something. Do you have a moment?”

“I would appreciate your feedback on something.”  

“Do you have time to discuss something?”

Then pause until they indicate they are willing. If they say, “Not right now,” honor that and ask them to let you know when they do have a moment.

Setting up a conversation ensures a better result in the conversation. In a way, the set up is what you say before you say what you want to say. It engages the other person’s attention before you ask the question and changes how a question is heard.

Of course, you don’t want to ask for someone’s thinking unless you are authentically going to consider it.

“When you ask others for their ideas, thoughts, and opinions in a sincere way, it honors not only who they are, but their ideas as well.” —from Chapter 9 of Ten Powerful Things to Say to Your Kids