Find Where They Know More Than You

It can be so frustrating to be a kid. Everyone has a head start on you. Older kids, your teachers, your parents, your grandparents. They’ve been around longer, seen more, read more, done more. And they don’t hesitate to lord this knowledge over you, do they?

Perhaps you remember this even from your own childhood. The condescension. The corrections. The confusion. Which is why we ought to make a little more effort to balance this asymmetry in wisdom and experience with our children. A few months ago, we talked about how one method of teaching young kids to read involves asking them to read about topics they actually know about (a kid who knows about baseball will read and understand a paragraph about baseball more than one who doesn’t.)

Well, what if we spent time talking to our kids about stuff where they know more than we do? Such topics exist of course–video games, drama at school, memes, the latest music, etc. Any parent who has accidentally stumbled onto one of these topics knows what happens. Suddenly, whether they’re a teenager or a toddler, your kid just opens up. Because they’ve been dying for someone to ask them about this stuff. They’ve been dying for the opportunity to explain this to someone, to show off all their interest and investigation into the topic.

What they’re feeling in that effusive moment of connection is relief. It’s confidence. It’s the exhilaration of being noticed, of having an audience…just like you get at dinner parties where the conversation turns to exactly what you studied in college or fancy yourself an expert about.

You can give this gift to your child anytime you want by asking a few simple questions, by seeking out the topics where they know more than you. Even easier, you can just pretend not to know about stuff. And in doing so, you can create a space for them to step into and to teach you about themselves.

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