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Inside: Do you want to get kids to tell you about their day at school and open up to you? Here are 5 easy and effective ways to make this happen!
I could hear my son running towards the front door. A few seconds later he entered the house with his dad. He ran to me and gave me a big hug.
“How was school today?”, I asked.
“It was fine.”
“What did you do all day?”
“Nothing!”, he replied while looking for his favorite cars in the toy box.
It was two weeks after he started Pre-K and I was really curious to find out if he likes his new teacher and colleagues. This dialogue seemed very familiar to me because we used to have it almost every day when he first started preschool. I would ask questions and he would offer the shortest answer that he could possibly give.
At that time, I spent a few weeks feeling frustrated about the lack of communication. Then I finally found an approach that worked great for us.
So that afternoon I took a step back and decided to try again, this time with a different approach.
I sat next to him on the floor and asked him about his little toy car. He was very excited to talk about them and we instantly connected.
After a while, I asked him if he wants to know how my day went. He said “yes” and I started telling him about my day. I told him what I did, what I liked most, and how much I missed him.
He was looking at me with a smile on his face.
“I missed you too!”, he said.
Then after a short pause, he continued:
“I played with my favorite garage today! And I think that I made a new friend!”.
I encouraged him to keep telling me about his new friend and I found out many other details about his day.
“What about your best friend from school, S.? What did he do today?”, I asked.
“We sat together at lunchtime! And I finished first because he didn’t like his lunch.”, he answered and kept telling me about what they did during the day.
At some point, he mentioned that his friend didn’t know the beginning sounds of the words that the teacher asked about.
“What about you?”, I asked hoping to find out more about what he learned that day. “Did you know those sounds?”
“Only some of them”, he said, “but the teacher said that it’s great that I’m trying!”
“That’s great!”, I said, “Did you learn anything new today?”
To my surprise, he started telling me about a science project that they did. I didn’t really understand what it was about because he kept jumping from one idea to another but I could clearly see that he enjoyed it.
“It seems that you had a lot of fun today at school!”, I said.
“I sure did!”, he answered with joy in his eyes.
“Thank you for telling me about your day!”, I told him as he was going back to the toy box to get more cars.
This second try to find out about his day went so much better! I was able to find out what he did at school but most of all, I realized that he enjoyed his day.
Sometimes we just talk about his day at school for a few minutes. Other times, when I feel that something is bothering him, I spend more time trying to find out what happened.
But every single time when I use this second approach the results are a lot better! This is why today I want to share with you some of the tips that can help you get kids to tell you about their day at school.
5 easy tips to get kids to tell you about their day
The most important thing that I learned about how to get kids to tell you about their day at school is to shift the focus from what matters to you to what matters to them. As parents, we are sometimes tempted to ask the kids a lot of questions about the things that are important to us. But for them, these questions may seem like an endless interrogation.
When kids know that the parents are genuinely interested in what they did and how they felt they are more likely to open up to them. Here are some tips that will help you get your child to share things about their day using an easy and effective approach.
1. Connect with the child before asking a lot of questions
When your child arrives from school reserve a few moments to connect with them. Let them know that you missed them, join them in their activities, tell them about your day.
Don’t ask them anything, just offer them your undivided attention. If you share things about your day with them, there are big chances that they will start talking about their day as well. If this happens, let the child guide the conversation. Listen to what they have to say even if they only share apparently unimportant details about their day.
photo credit: Africa Studio / shutterstock.com
2. Ask the right questions
Don’t overwhelm the child with too many questions. Don’t make them feel like you evaluate them through your questions. Ask questions about the things that you know they will be glad to talk about.
Here is a list of 40 great questions to ask your child instead of “How was school today?”. You’ll be amazed at how many things your child will share with you if you ask the right questions.
3. Show genuine interest about their friends and preferences
Kids love to talk about their friends and preferences. Even if they don’t talk specifically about the activities they did at school, you can still find out important details from their stories.
A great trick is to ask about what their best friend did at school. Chances are that the answer will include many details about the activities that they did together and you’ll get many cues about how your child’s day at school went.
Also, if your child has some favorite subjects or activities, asking about those topics will make them more talkative for sure!
4. Pay attention to your reactions
One of the main reasons why children don’t open up to their parents is that they are afraid of their reactions. They either don’t want to disappoint the parent or they don’t want to be lectured or punished.
If your child tells you about something that happened at school that you don’t like (e.g. they had a conflict with a colleague, they didn’t eat anything at lunch, they weren’t paying attention to the teacher), don’t react in the heat of the moment. Ask your child about what happened and listen to them without judging or criticizing.
Your child most probably already knows that what happened was not okay. Let them know that you appreciate the fact that they told you what happened. Ask them about how they felt. Show them that they have your support and that you want to help them find solutions for their problems.
A gentle approach will help your child feel loved and understood. It will also encourage them to be honest with you when something bad happens.
photo credit: Africa Studio / shutterstock.com
5. Find creative ways to get kids to talk about their day
Sometimes the moment when you ask your child about their day has a big impact on the answers you get. If your child is hungry, or tired, or feels disconnected, the answers will be short and dismissive.
If your child doesn’t want to talk after they get home, here are 2 other great moments to start a conversation:
- During dinner invite every family member to share things about their day. This is a wonderful way to connect as a family and find out about your child’s day at school.
- Before bedtime kids tend to get more talkative because they like to delay going to sleep. So you can use that moment to ask your child about their day.
Also, try to make the conversation funny. Kids are more likely to open up to you if you make things fun!
I hope that these tips will help you have more meaningful conversations with your child when it comes to get them to tell you about their day. These ideas are very easy to implement and they can make a big difference for both you and your kids!
More from Playful Notes
- 40 questions that will make your child want to tell you about their day
- The 5 powerful things that will help your child be more independent
- Struggling with parenting anger? Here are the first steps to overcome it
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photo credit preview photo: Yuganov Konstantin / shutterstock.com