Click Here To Purchase Get to Know Your Kid

Author: Shana Connell Noyes

Publisher: Stewart, Tabori & Chang

ISBN: 978-1-59479-862-0

Get To Know Your Kid is a workbook and a memento. Each 6x9-inch page has one question to ask a child, leaving enough room for the child’s answer — or the inquisitor’s notes.

Two psychologists who wrote the foreword suggest it promotes positive parenting skills, something along the lines of Carl Rogers’ idea of “active listening.” Carl Rogers is considered the founder of client-centered therapy.

The author is a lawyer who explains that she wanted more than a one-word answer when she asked her child about his school day. She experimented with open-ended questions, focusing on the child’s pure interest, and without “right or wrong” answers. It yielded stunning insights.

She includes 100 questions, such as: What do you like most about yourself? — .Have you ever been really scared of something? — What is your most prized possession? Where did you get it? What makes is special? Would you ever sell it? For how much? — Do you have any secret abilities that no one knows about? — Do you know what I do all day while you are at school?

DISCLOSURE: I am 73 and have reservations about the ethics of this. Thus I have respectfully stepped back to ask two teenage granddaughters to critique the book, which is intended for use with kids aged 4-10.

Sophie, a bright 16 (straight A’s in a charter school just ranked number 3 in the nation) likes the book, and thinks the concept is one more parents should adopt. It would “strengthen family ties” and “give [a parent] understanding into lives led by kids today.” FYI, she has gone to a counselor much of her life. Her parents are divorced. She has many close friends. She writes:

As a teenager, I ask myself these questions a lot. I know my answers have changed frequently over the years, but talking about them is always a great idea. These questions are creative and some remind me of college application essays. Some of them I have never asked myself, and I wish I had. They are questions that keep the imagination going.”

I approached Emilie (12) differently. She is an incredible athlete, but she quietly defers to others for ordinary decisions. When she expresses her ideas, she surprises us with her maturity.

I first asked Emilie to be a critic of the questions. I read 50 of them to her while she marked on a card whether or not she would be willing to answer them. She could say yes, no, or maybe, and she was to star those she really liked. Out of 50, she said “maybe” to 12 questions; “no” to 2, and starred 4 of the 36 “yes” answers.

All I will say about the “no’s” is that both are borderline scary.

Then I asked her if she would be willing to talk to me about those she gave stars to, and she did: (#17) What animal would you like to be? A dog, because they have fun OR a bird because it can fly (the athlete). (24) What are your favorite things to do as a family? Stay at a house on the beach and cook and do things together. (31) When you think about everything in your life, what are you most thankful for? That I can go to college, that I have the kind of family I have, and that I don’t have to live on the street. (47) If you could invite anyone in the world . . . to come over and play …, who would it be? Her best friend who moved away last fall.

Maybe the book fills a void. I was given a diary with a tiny key when I was 8, and as far as I now my mother never looked at it. In fact, there probably wasn’t much there. Later I wrote poems, infinitely more revealing. Last May I watched a 6-year-old grandchild start her own diary on lined notebook paper. The advantage to that method is that it cut to the chase, starting where the child’s mind already is. The drawback (assuming she keeps it up) is that her parents may not purposefully take notice.

I think the deciding factor here is how much a parent needs to know about a child’s inner life. In GET TO KNOW YOUR KID, some of the questions are merely fun (“What are rainbows made of?”) but some seem intrusive (“Do you ever talked to your dolls . . . what do you say to them?”).

However, the book got four thumbs up from the girls, because Emilie stressed it should have no age limit. She was thumbs down on asking about school, though, because “nothing ever happens” worth telling about. She added that she doesn’t ask her parents about their work, either.

Click Here To Purchase Get to Know Your Kid