Last week I was in a corner booth at a local pizza place with four 8thgrade boys. The conversation was typical middle school boys—all over the place.
“Hey man, look at my new phone case!”
“I got one too, see?”
“I got it for Christmas.”
“Do you know what I got for Christmas? Your mom!”
After eating and listening to them talk (as if they had never had anyone listen to them before), I told them we were going to go around the table and each finish the following sentence:
“If you know me, you know I…. but if you reallyknew me, you’d know…”
I gave them an example.
“If you know me, you know I have no problem speaking to large crowds. But if you reallyknew me, you’d know that I’m actually pretty scared to talk with someone one-on-one and I get nervous and bumble up the conversation.”
I told them they could go as deep as they wanted. No pressure. It was up to them.
And everything changed.
Kids began to share deep things about themselves. Tough family struggles. Insecurities. The death of a parent. It was awesome. I love it when I’m able to make kids feel noticed and heard.
Whenever you create a safe place where kids can talk and people will listen, kids will typically open up.
What questions have worked for you?