Helping STEM Students Build Soft Skills – Strategy #3: ASK ABOUT

Dear Readers: In lieu of reading this post, you can view the embedded video (bottom of post).

Welcome to Strategy #3, ASK ABOUT. It’s a simple one to understand, but it requires intentionality and your undivided attention to your child to execute effectively.

Ask About

It’s about inquiring into your child’s experiences, activities, and thoughts that are related to current events and people in their lives.

It’s about zeroing in on the experiences or stories that involve soft skills.

Start With these Two Basic Questions/Requests:

First is the question, What do you think?

Next is the request, Tell me more. The phrase “Tell Me More” is actually the title from a wonderful article on listening written by Brenda Ueland for the Utne Reader, many years ago.

This Is the Key

Be sure and use open-ended questions that require more than just a one or two word answer.

Asking a common question like, “How was school (or college) today?”, won’t cut it. More times than not, a question like that will bring you a learn-nothing answer such as, “Ok”.

Instead, use probing questions or requests like the two I gave you previously. Then go silent, and give your child your full attention while you listen closely.

One thing I’ve discovered is that these conversations can also be fascinating learning opportunities for us as parents.

Kids Can Teach Us So Much

I know this first hand because over the past four to five years, two of our sons have been attending medical school in nearby Kansas City. Having our guys close to us has allowed them to stop by regularly to say hello and to share their college experiences.

I’m really thankful they are nearby, because I treasure the learning conversations we’ve had, and continue to have. Nobody in our extended family has ever been in a medical career, so their experiences are new for all of us.

One of my oldest son’s soft skills stories even made it into an past blog post I wrote titled, Neurosurgeon Recommends Dale Carnegie As A Must-read Author.

His story is a great example of being able to turn a child’s experience into a valuable teaching point. 



Make these two inquiring phrases, “What do you think?” and “Tell me more”, a part of your regular daily vocabulary and watch as the relationship with your child blossoms.

While this happens, also pay attention to how much you and your child are learning together about soft skills. It’s fun and amazing at the same time.


If you happen to keep a journal or write a blog, you can be confident that making these two inquiries of your child on a regular basis, will yield some wonderful stories for you to write about.

Now Get Ready for an Idea that Can Yield Huge Returms

Ok, that’s it for Strategy #3.

In the next post on Strategy #4, we’ll go over an idea that while I admit is a bit more work, it also offers the potential for some excellent learning for you and your child. I call it DRIP IDEAS.

 If desired, you can view this entire post in the video below:

Questions: What question will you ask your child first? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Note: This post is one of the chapters in the free PARENT’S GUIDE TO HELPING STEM STUDENTS BUILD OUTSTANDING SOFT SKILLS. On THIS PAGE, you can learn more about the GUIDE, watch a short summary video and request a FREE downloadable PDF copy.


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