10 Tips For Interviewing Your Young Child On Video

101_1064I’m a huge advocate for capturing people’s stories on video, regardless of their age, background or any other consideration. Hence, if you have a video camera I believe capturing your child’s life story on video as they grow up is just too good an opportunity to miss.

Why interview your kids?

I’ve interviewed my daughter on video since she could speak. It’s a more interesting variation on the video we often see of kids playing or just doing things at random. While I love capturing these moments too, sitting down with your kids every now and then and asking them a few questions on video is a great way to capture their story at various stages of their development. And with their little imaginations on full throttle in the early years you can certainly capture some great stories.

How do I interview my young children?

As many people may not think to ‘interview’ their children,  or may not know how to go about it effectively, I thought I’d put together a few tips to help you along the way. These are mainly tips for young children, however, some may also apply to older children as well.

1. Ask simple questions. Usually in an interview I would suggest using open-ended questions, but with young kids it’s a bit different. The questions need to be specific and simple if you want them to open up. Later in the conversation or at later ages, open-ended questions work better. I’ll give you an example – “Did you go to school this week?” “What was your favourite thing you did at school this week?” “What did you like most about doing that?” “Who did you do it with?” “Did something funny happen at school this week?” “Tell me how the funny thing happened” “Was there anything else that you did this week that was fun?”. If you don’t get answers from one of these, you have a back-up question. Asking ‘what did you do at school today?’ can sometimes get  “oh, nothing much” or something similar. So I’ve learned to ask further specific questions which then lead to much more interesting answers. I think little kids sometimes get a bit overwhelmed when they’re asked about their whole day or week. Getting specific is the key.

2. Get them to tell you about something they’ve done recently. Again, ask specific questions. If you’re their parent you know what they’ve been doing so just prompt them to get them started, and keep asking those questions to keep them going!

3. Get them to sing a song they love. Simple but can be quite gorgeous because they forget you’re there! It’s a good way to circumvent playing to the camera too.

4. Ask them to dance for you, then ask them questions about it – a bit out of left field, but as some kids love to dance, but are a bit shy, this can be a way of relaxing them before getting them to talk. You could even put on one of their favourite songs so they can do their usual dance – very cute! Then ask them why they like the song or where they learned the dance etc.

5. Ask lots of “favourite” questions. Eg What is your favourite book? What do you like about it? Who’s your favourite person/character in the book? Who gave it to you? Having the same list of ‘favourite’ questions that you ask every time you interview them can be a really great way of showing their growth and development. Their favourite song will change quite regularly, as will their favourite food or tv show.

6. Ask leading questions – about things you already know they have been talking about, but you would like to capture them speaking about on video. Eg. Something they’ve just done at school or kinder, a party they’ve just been to, a holiday they’ve just been on. “You just went to Queensland didn’t you. Tell me what you did up there”.

7. Pick a topic to focus on in your ten minutes and stick to it. Maybe you might like to get your child talking about their grandparents, for instance. It could go something like “How ‘bout you tell me about ‘Grandma’ and ‘Grandad’ today” “What do you like doing with Grandma?” “Tell me about a time with Grandma that made you laugh?” “What’s your favourite thing about Grandma?” “Where do they live?” “What do you like doing when you visit them?”etc etc

8. Ask them to tell you a story or read you a book. Even if they can’t read, they make up great stories if you can get them going. These can be priceless!

9. Mix it up. Pick two or three of the above and combine them. Sometimes you will find your child is talkative, and other times not. If asking them about one thing doesn’t work, or they’re too shy this time to sing (even though they did last time), try another one of the ideas.

10. If they’re really not into it or really don’t want to, don’t force the issue. This will just lead to them hating when the camera comes out. Either put it away completely or suggest doing it a bit later. Because I’ve done little interviews with my daughter since she could speak, and videoed her from a very young age, she is used to it. One thing she really loves is when I turn the video screen around so she can see herself. It can be a trap at times, as she sees it as a fascinating mirror (and starts to pull faces, poke out her tongue etc), but if they’re reluctant it can be a good way to get kids to at least sit in front of the camera.

Kids, like adults, like attention and like to feel interesting, so just being interested enough in them to suggest a video interview will often be enough to get them on board.

Bonus Tip: Keep It Short!!

I mentioned 10 minutes in one of the tips. This is because that is about the attention span of most young kids when it comes to videoing. Doing the interview in short stints can often work the best. As soon as they start being silly and playing up to the camera that’s usually a sign that they’ve had enough for now.

Good luck with capturing your child’s story! I’d love to hear your feedback. Let me know any tips you can suggest?

(Update: As of Nov 14th 2013 please contact me via email at louise@15minutepowerplayswithyourkids.com, visit the 15 Minute Power Plays With Your Kids ebook Facebook or Twitter Page or visit the website www.15minutepowerplayswithyourkids.com If you happen to stumble across this post and it’s NOT because I’ve linked to it from my book, pop over and say hi anyway :-). Please  DO NOT go to my previous website at www.itsmylifeproject.com.au as it has been hacked)

Keep smiling

Wedding Head Shot #6

Louise

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