Written by Heidi Kulicke

Let’s face it, it’s not always easy to know what to talk to your Little about – especially if your Little doesn’t talk much. As a Big, you have the opportunity to make a lasting impact in the life of a child. As you and your Little grow more comfortable with each other, you can start to ask your Little deeper questions that go beyond “How is school going?” and avoid the generic responses you’re likely to receive. Below are some ideas to get the conversation moving.

  • Friendship, Cooperation, and Teamwork

It’s important for kids to develop people skills while they’re young. As a big, you can help move the conversation in this direction by asking questions like, “How can you be a good friend” or “What do you do if you and your friend don’t agree?” This is an opportunity to teach your Little about what a compromise is and why it’s important. Other questions could be, “How do you help a friend who is sad?” You can let your Little know that when a friend is sad they should listen, acknowledge their feelings, and ask how they can help. Or you could ask “Are your classmates nice to each other and are you nice to them?” Being aware of others who are kind or mean will help your Little to choose good friends and better navigate friendships.

  • Feelings and Emotions

It can be difficult for children to understand their emotions and put a label on what they are feeling exactly. By learning how to do this, however, children are better equipped to handle the ups and downs of life. To help your Little understand what he or she is feeling, you can ask questions like, “What do you do when you are mad or sad, and are you ever mean when you’re unhappy?” This gives you the opportunity to suggest positive ways to deal with sadness or anger (reading, music, talking to friends, working out, etc.) Another question you could ask is, “How do you calm down if you are nervous, and what do you get nervous about?” Talk to your Little about different ways to relax and calm down, and what you do when you’re feeling stressed or nervous about something. Anger is a big issue for many children, especially if their home life is less than ideal. You could ask your Little, “What makes you angry and what do you do when you are angry?” Explain to your Little that when they are mad the first thing they should do is stop and think before acting on an impulse. This way they are less likely to regret something later.

  • Building Confidence and Self-Esteem

Learning to adapt to their growing and changing bodies is a challenge for many children. Those who are competitive or compare themselves to their peers often have an especially difficult time. As a Big, you have the opportunity to help your Little feel good about him or herself by recognizing their own strengths. You can ask questions like, “What are you most confident about?” Discuss with your Little the importance of confidence, and build up their confidence by giving them a few compliments. Or you could ask, “What do your friends like about you?” Help your Little understand how others might perceive them, and tell each other what you like about each other. You could also ask, “How would you describe yourself in 5 words?” The way your Little responds to this question is telling. If they don’t say anything positive, help them to recognize their strengths and talents. Tell them they are special and unique and add great value to the world simply by being alive.

It’s important for your Little to know you care about them and wish for their happiness and success, and by asking your Little deeper questions, you have the opportunity to grow closer together. Never underestimate the positive impact you can have on your Little simply by asking meaningful questions and showing you care.