Posture of Curiosity

This one tiny step can completely change an interaction with a teenager. 

By Momentous Institute | Dec 26, 2016
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There are a lot of things we’re curious about when dealing with teenagers.

 Why did he think that was a good idea?

What is she wearing??

But there are other times when we don’t approach a situation with curiosity. Often, when teens do things that we don’t approve of, we immediately worry and form a discipline plan. This isn’t necessarily wrong. Discipline is crucial for teaching kids valuable lessons about their actions. But if we add one tiny step in there first, it can change the whole interaction.

When a teen makes a decision that seems negative – say, she partied at a friend’s house, or didn’t study for her final exam – we can take one pause to be curious about what happened. Before jumping to worry and discipline, we can stop and think, “Why did she do that?”

When we skip this step, we can fall into the trap of perpetuating the idea that we’re out of touch with their reality, or worse – that we don’t care. It’s hardly our fault. Teenagers cause us to worry a lot! It’s natural for us to gravitate towards worry when talking about our kids. But think about how much space it opens in the relationship with a teenager when we take the time to think about their story and try to understand.

A posture of curiosity means that we’re asking questions with the intention to really understand. This is not leading the witness. This is not asking questions that we presume we already know the answers to. So, for example, it’s the difference between:

Did you go to the party because you were trying to fit in, and you didn’t want to let your friends down? or

Help me understand why you decided to go to that party.

This sounds silly, but one way to help with this is to imagine that you’re from another country. Imagine what it would be like to see this situation with zero context. What would you see if you let go of your preconceived ideas?

This small shift in thinking can have dramatic effects on the relationship with a teenager. Think about how much better you would feel when facing a conflict at work or in a relationship and someone approached you with true curiosity. Teenagers deserve the respect of adults who seek to understand. When we adopt a true posture of curiosity - not just questioning or interrogating - we’re helping create a safe space for them to open up and share with us.