“Dr. Becky… it’s like my kids always need some audience.

They make a tower and need to show me right away, they paint and run to me for my opinion…

how can I get out of this when they’re looking for my reaction and approval?”


Here are some new questions to say in response to your child’s plea for approval: “How’d you think to make that?”; “How’d you think to draw that?”; “How’d you think to create that?”; “How’d you think to use those materials together?”

Start to marvel at the workings of your child’s mind.  Be curious.  Wonder about the “how” rather than praising the “what.”  Watch how she responds.  It’s magic.

There’s nothing that feels so good as when someone around us expresses interest in us:  in how we think about things, in how we came up with our ideas, in where we want to go next.  Imagine your boss asking, “Wow, how’d you think to complete the project that way? Tell me more…” or your friend asking, “How’d you think to design your bedroom this way?”

When someone asks, “How’d you think to…,” they are letting us know that they want to learn more about US.  We stay center stage, we stay as the protagonist of the story as we explain, say, all the research we did on Pinterest to come up with our bedroom design or how many paint colors we actually considered or a story about always wanting to have a brighter bedroom but being nervous to and then feeling bold and creative and going for it.

When someone asks us a question that indicates interest in our *process,* we feel that we have that person’s full attention, that there’s nothing this person wants more in that moment than for us to expand and share more about ourselves. This builds connection, self-worth, self-confidence, and a self-belief that proclaims, “The things inside me are interesting… to myself and to other people.”

Ironically, a judgment – even a positive one – shuts us down. Let’s go back to the adult examples two paragraphs up. As compared to a “How’d you think to…” question, imagine instead responses of: “Good job on that project” or “Beautiful new bedroom.”

These don’t feel bad, at all, but they definitely feel different than the question of interest.  There’s not much to say in response to a compliment, really, except for, “Thanks!”… and then the conversation is over. By contrast, a question of “How’d you think to….” opens up a conversation and leads to more sharing and connection.

Try This At Home:

Try this question today with your child.  Ask, “How’d you think to…” and see what happens. When you express interest in learning more about your child’s internal process, your child builds feelings of self-worth and self-confidence.