As your kids gets older, you will have to work harder and smarter to stay engaged with them because it’s definitely going to be worth it in the long run. For a lot of parents setting their children free into the world has given them all sorts of feelings; Being worried. Relieved. Hopeful to feeling excited. And one of the strongest feelings I’ve had since my children started school is that I’m curious.
What did they do today? What kind of games did they play? Were they nice to their classmates? Are they being bullied? Do they like their teachers? Did they offer anyone a helping hand? Did they do any of the (good) things we’ve taught them at home?
Sometimes I wish I could be a fly on the wall at their school to see what they do or how they act when I’m not around. And see—that’s called being curious, not crazy, silly?
But, sadly, I can’t do that. And we’re all probably better off. So instead, I ask questions. I can listen and learn. But what exactly should I be asking? What will help foster this desire in my child to share her experiences with me?
Few overall conversation tips from experts:
- Don’t bombard your child with questions right away — That can be too overwhelming. They may be tired or just not really up for conversation the second they get in the car or off the bus, so just give them some time.
- Ask them open ended questions — You’re more likely to get better information out of them this way—think longer stories and more descriptive explanations.
- Chat casually with them — If you seem to be pressuring them with wanting answers to your questions or maybe even asking the wrong types of questions—they might not be receptive to that.
- Pause if they don’t seem to be engaging — If when you first start chatting about their day, and they don’t seem to be engaging with you, try again later. Your timing may just be off and it’s always best then to take a break and give it a go at another time.
Here are some specific questions to ask your child instead of the plain old, “How was your day” or, “What did you do today?” questions.
1. What did you like best about your day today?
2. Was there anything that happened today that made you feel bad?
3. What was the most interesting thing that you learned in school today?
4. Did you make a new friend today? What’s their name? What do you like about them?
5. Is there anything you would like help with?
6. What is/was your favorite thing to do during recess?
7. What’s the silliest thing that happened today?
8. What do you like about yourself?
9. If you could be anyone for a week, who would you be? Why?
10. What are you grateful for today?
11. What is something you would have liked to do differently today?
12. What would you change about school?
13. Who is someone at school you’d like to be friends with?
14. What makes someone a good friend?
15. Who were you a helper to today?
16. Who was kind to you today?
It’s a good idea not to barrage your kids every single day with after-school questions, because inevitably you’re still going to get the same answers and silent treatment. Try putting each of these questions on cards and dropping them all in a large bowl, then have your child randomly pick out one question every few days. Also, ask them to make up their own questions about your day, and put them in the same bowl. Now you both can get talking!
Inessence, we must understand that this isn’t a quiz. There’s no right or wrong answer. We’re just showing them we’re interested in their life without boring them with the same stereotyped question everyday.