The quality question to ask children after church (to get quality answers)

When my kiddos pour out of church and into the minivan my hubby and I automatically ask everyone about church. Up until recently, the initial question was, “What did you learn about today?”

Three hours of church were then summed up in one or two words. It went something like this:

“What did you learn about today?”

“Be good.”

Then, I’d poke and prod for more details – only to hear brief reports of what went on in class.

“We watched a video.”
“The teacher told a story.”
“There was a game and pictures.”

Uh. Ok …. that didn’t sound too inspiring or impactful. And though I knew I wasn’t wasting our time by being at church, I wondered if anything was actually penetrating past their skulls and skin (besides the seasonal viruses).

This went on for years. You remember the infamous definition of insanity:
Doing the same things over and over again, expecting different results.
(P.S. This quote has been attributed to Albert Einstein, Mark Twain, Benjamin Franklin and others … wish we knew the true author.)

Well, I finally decided to stop the insanity.

I decided to change the quality of my question, in order to change the quality of the answers. I don’t remember how this particular question came to mind – perhaps I heard of someone else asking it, or perhaps the Spirit placed the idea within me. Either way, I’m impressed with the results and wanted to share the success.

one question after church chats

The question that has made the difference in our Sabbath day discussions:

It’s not an open-ended question, but it leads to open-ended answers. When the children says yes, they continue by sharing when and why (it may take some follow-up questions, but they’re naturally embedded in the conversation).

The first two or three weeks I asked this question, the response was hesitant and timid. Sometimes all three children shrugged their shoulders and said no – so I’d share when I felt the Spirit. But after a few weeks, they knew the question was coming and they began to listen for the Spirit more intently at church so they’d have an answer.

Today, all three children answered an enthusiastic, “Yes!” – and that’s a success worth celebrating. They recounted specific testimonies shared, and the feelings that accompanied the words. They mentioned a song that swelled in their hearts and a youth speaker who spoke from the soul. As one recounted a certain comment they felt touched by, the others audibly agreed with, “Oh yeah! That was so good!” It wasn’t a lengthy discussion, but it was a worthwhile one – and the Spirit re-entered our hearts and home again.

Have you found certain questions that draw out inspired answers from your children? I’d love to hear!


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  • Shar

    Hi, Jes! Great article about an oh-so important and fun topic.

    I like to use “Tell me about” at the beginning of my “question.” For instance, “Tell me about your day!” It can also be effectively used a follow up question: “Tell me what [that] was like for you.” This framework fosters creativity and a choice of where to begin, allowing the child to focus on what stood out for them, and it works beautifully with children and adults alike! 🙂

    • JesPoe

      Thank you, Shar! I value your insights! Love the, “Tell me what that was like for you.” I will use that from here on out!! And you’re spot on about kind communication working equally with children and adults. Thank you!

  • Elissa

    This an excellent idea! I think that of all the wonderful things you can teach your children, learning how to recognize the Holy Ghost is one of the most important. I mean, if they can recognize the Spirit, they will have so much perspective and protection and comfort available to them throughout their lives! We will definitely be starting this at our house. Thank you!

    • JesPoe

      Yes, Elissa! Identifying and clearly hearing the Spirit is HUGE – and something I’m still yearning to master. And someone else pointed out that this question is one we should be asking ourselves each day … I heartily agree! 🙂

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