“So, How Was Your Day?”
Last month the Huffington Post had a great article on 25 Ways To Ask Your Kids “So How Was School Today?” Without Asking Them “So How Was School Today?”. There were some great ideas in that article on questions and phrases to use when talking to your kids about their days. Now that they’ve had a few weeks to get into the routine of their new school year, here are a few other ideas to consider that go beyond the words and questions that you’re using.
Reflect what you see. If you can tell that your daughter had a rough day at school just by the way she’s trudging home, try saying something like, “Looks like you had a hard day.” If she’s skipping down the sidewalk, try, “You look like had a great day!” Reflecting on what their behaviour is telling you shows that you’re paying attention and might make it easier for them to open up.
Talk about yourself. Maybe something exciting, or funny, or scary, or noteworthy happened to you in your day. Get the ball rolling by sharing your story. Too often the “flow” is only going in one direction with our kids, and we don’t even realize it. Inviting our kids into our own little worlds encourages them to see us as people too, which helps to keep that conversational flow going both ways. It allows our kids to see us as something other than the rule-setting, discipline-doling, time-obsessed adults that they might be inclined to view us as.
Give conversation the best chance to blossom. Not all kids enjoy sitting down and having a face-to-face talk. You might get more openness if you are doing something together, such as making dinner or folding laundry. Lots of parents say that driving their kids to an activity is when the conversation opens up. Perhaps this is because when you’re driving there’s no possibility of eye contact, which some kids find too intense. Or try making conversation a daily, family habit: There are a number of companies that sell collections of “family dinner questions”; Melissa and Doug have one, or check out this Pinterest board with lots of fab do-it-yourself ideas for “Dinnertime as a Family”. If the question is thrown out to everyone at the table, you might find that more specific topics start to be thrown out or evolve out of the discussion, too.
At the end of the day, it’s probably not knowing the small details of who played with whom, and how the bus ride to school went, that matters the most. It’s giving your kids the understanding that you’re there, and creating a habit of sharing, talking, discussing, and trusting that keeps important lines of communication open as they grow.