When I picked my son up from his day of 4th grade, my usual (enthusiastically delivered) question of “how was your day?” was met with his usual (indifferently delivered) “fine.” The same thing with my daughter when driving home from Preschool, I asked her “What did you do today?”, she usually would have said “I don’t remember”.
Come on! Tell me something. It’s not possible you don’t remember. You just came back from school, please tell me anything about that!
But no… they would provide me with “It was good. Ok. I was fine”
Speaking with other moms about that, I figured out it’s not only my problem! Ufffff. We all have the same issue about “What did you do today “ question, because as they’ve assured me, even their children would reply with the same: “NOTHING!”
Are those kiddos in a gang or something?
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?
I suppose the problem is my own. That question doesn’t really do much for our kids. Far from a conversation starter, it’s uninspired, overwhelmingly open ended and frankly, completely boring.
So, as an alternative, I turned to the experts to get their suggestions and I’ve compiled a list of questions that my kid will answer with more than a single word or grunt.
These are the overall conversational tips:
1.Don’t pepper 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.
2.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.
3.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.
4.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 specific questions to ask your child instead of the plain old, “How was your day?” or, “What did you do today?” questions.
Psychiatrist and bestselling author Dr. Carole Lieberman suggests:
- What did you like best about your day today?
- Was there anything that happened today that made you feel bad?
- What was the most interesting thing that you learned in school today?
- Did you make a new friend today? What’s their name? What do you like about them?
- Is there anything you would like help with?
Eve Del Monte, LCPC of Towson Mental Health suggests:
- What is/was your favorite thing to do during recess?
- What’s the silliest thing that happened today?
Parenting Coach Fern Weis suggests:
- What do you like about yourself?
- If you could be anyone for a week, who would you be?
- What is something you would have liked to do differently today?
- What would you change about school?
- Who is someone at school you’d like to be friends with?
- What makes someone a good friend?
Bestselling author and founder of Positive Parenting: Toddlers and Beyond, Rebecca Eanes suggests:
- Who were you a helper to today?
- Who was kind to you today?
- What did you notice today that most people probably didn’t notice?
- I need a laugh. Tell me something funny that happened today.
Child Development expert and founder of The Thoughtful Parent, Amy Webb suggests:
- Who did you sit by at lunch?
- What made you feel happy today?
- What made you feel sad today?
- Who did you play with today?
- What book did you read at story time?
- Did you learn something you’d never known before?
- Did something surprise you today?
- Did you do anything different today?
- Rachel Macy Stafford, New York Times bestselling author of Hands Free Mama suggests:
- Did you feel worried at any time in school today?
- Did you feel scared at any time in school today?
Try it! I did and it turned out that my children can and they would answer with more than a single word or grunt.
Happy afternoons with your children everybody!