After a long day of school, our kids come home and our first instinct is to ask “How was your day?” For most parents, we get the “it was good” response with no additional details. Even if we try to pry a little more, we have difficulties getting more from our kiddos.
Whether your child is quieter, a little more private, or just won’t open up about their day, here are a few questions that might help to open up the door to a more detailed conversation.
- Ask Open-Ended questions. It’s very easy to ask questions that can be answered with one word - yes or no - and that’s what you will get. A one-word answer. Try asking open-ended questions instead to trigger a longer conversation.
Examples: “What was the best part of your day at school?” or “What was your favorite thing you learned?”
- Ask about factual observations. Sometimes kids have a hard time answering questions that come out of the blue. Just like adults, it puts them “on the spot.” That can be intimidating, so making an observation gives your child something to relate to.
Examples: “This year you have a lot of new students in your class. How is that going?” or “I know you had Art class today, what did you make?”
- Share something about yourself. Try to include things you may have done when you were in school. When we mention something ourselves, it’s sometimes natural to want to do it in return.
Examples: “I used to play tag at recess. What do you and your friends do?” or “When I was in school, we used to make Mother’s Day presents, what do you do?
- Avoid negative questions. If you think something isn’t going well, your questions may come out in a negative way, with emotionally packed w
ords, like sad or mean. Asking in a positive way lets your child express concerns.
Examples: “I heard you sat with some new students today. What did you talk about?” or “The nurse called me and said you got hurt. Can you tell me what happened?”
Finding better ways to phrase your questions to your child can invite them to talk more. But don’t expect for every question to result in a long detailed conversation. The goal is to get small conversations over time. It helps to find natural moments to talk, when you're not in a rush, like at dinner.
Although kids are still a lot like adults, sometimes we just don’t feel like talking. It’s important to know when to stop asking questions and leave it for another time. If you know there is a serious or urgent matter to discuss, you will have to ask a direct and more specific question and push for an answer.