Does this sound familiar?
Mom: How was your day?
Mom: What did you do?
My son has always been a quiet kid. Sometimes getting him to talk about his day is like pulling teeth. As moms, we want to hear all about what happened when our kids are away from us, but sometimes kids just aren’t interested in sharing. Here are a few tips I’ve found helpful to get my kids to open up about their day.
Pay Attention to What’s Going on at School
Read the teacher’s newsletter, pay attention to PTA happenings, and know their schedule. If you know what day of the week your child goes to art class, then you’ll know to ask about art after school that day. If you’re aware of what is going on it makes it easier to engage your child in meaningful conversation. Did they have an assembly today, a special guest visitor, go to the computer lab? I also like to use the power of Facebook to my advantage. Recently I had the following conversation with my son.
Me: Who did you sit by at lunch today?
Me: Oh, and did her mom sit with you guys also?
Cole: Yeah, she did. How did you know that?
Me: Because I know everything (thank you Facebook).
Actually, I had seen Erika’s mom post about having lunch with her birthday girl and so I decided to use that information to my advantage. But what was really interesting was the next statement out of my son’s mouth. “Well, did you know the art teacher ate a bug in class today.” That, I did not know.
Ask Detailed Questions
If you only ask yes or no questions, then you’re going to get short, yes or no answers. Considering the following conversation starters:
- Which story did your teacher read to the class today?
- Did you raise your hand to ask a question today?
- What did you do in P.E. (art, music, etc.) today?
- What does your teacher have planned this week?
- What are you looking forward to at school tomorrow?
- What has been your most favorite activity this year (ask this at various points throughout the year)?
- What was your favorite part of your day?
- What was your least favorite part of the day?
- Did you get frustrated with anything at school today?
- Were you able to finish all of your work today?
- Do you have any questions that maybe your teacher couldn’t answer?
- What did you have for lunch?
- Who did you sit by during lunch?
- Who did you play with today?
- What are your friends doing this weekend?
The more specific your questions, the better your chances are of getting a specific answer. And always be sure to mix up your questions. No one wants to be asked the same thing day after day.
Give Them Time to Decompress
Have you ever come home from a long day of work and not wanted to talk to anyone? Yeah, me too. Sometimes the best time to talk to your child about their day isn’t right when you pick them up. Much like adults, kids sometimes need time to decompress after a full day of school. If my kids don’t seem to want to talk about their day right away then we have a snack and I try again later in the afternoon, or at the dinner table, or when I’m tucking them into bed. Sometimes they don’t feel like sharing until the following morning at breakfast.
Talk a Little About Your Day
If your child doesn’t seem to want to talk about their day, sometimes chatting with them about your day can open up the flow of communication. Think about the types of things you’d like them to share, and model that conversation. You can share something hard you had to do, something that was exciting, something that made you happy or angry.
Don’t Take it Personally
This one is the hardest thing to do as a parent. Just because your child doesn’t feel like talking about their day doesn’t mean that you’re a horrible mom, or even that they had a bad day. Sometimes kids are just tired, or hungry, or cranky and don’t feel like talking. Don’t take it personally; just try again tomorrow, maybe with some different questions or at a different time of the day.
Most importantly, when your children do start to open up to you, PAY ATTENTION. Put down your phone, stop checking email, turn off the TV. Be sure to show them that you are truly interested in what they have to say.