When your child spends 8+ hours away from you, but has nothing to say about it when they get home from school, that should be cause for concern. Help your child open up about their experiences by utilizing the following tips.
Open- Ended Questions
If you want to find out how your child’s day was, you have to stop asking questions that only require a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. You need your child to elaborate. Ask them questions that help them do that. For example, ask things like, “What was your favorite part of school today?” You could also ask something like, “Which subject are you liking the most right now?” Ask them what they’re learning about in their favorite class. There are so many facets of their day you can inquire about. When you show your child you’re interested in hearing about their day, they’ll be more inclined to share with you. Try to give them your undivided attention when they’re speaking to you. Let them know these conversations are important!
Observations Based in Facts
One of the easiest ways to help your child open up about their school day is to make an observation based in facts. Children struggle to answer questions when they feel like they come out of the blue. Start by making a factual observation like “I noticed you’ve been bringing home a lot of art this year. How are you liking the class?” Help them make the connection between the conversation and the questions you ask. It will help them feel confident and comfortable responding.
Reciprocate the Sharing
If your child opens up to you and shares something about themselves, return the favor by opening up to them as well. You can say something like, “My favorite elective was Home Ec. What’s yours?” Creating a space in which your child feels safe and comfortable talking about their lives while also learning about yours is the ultimate goal. Sharing your experiences can help you bond with your child.
Avoid Negative Questions
You want to be conscious of the way your questions might come across to your child. An article written by Andrew M.I. Lee for understood.org explains, “If you think something isn’t going well, your questions may come out in a negative way, with emotion-packed words like sad or mean. Asking in a positive way lets your child express concerns.”
The article goes on to give this example, “I heard that you sat with new people at lunch today. What did you talk about?”
Framing your questions this way help take some of the emotion out of a conversation. It also removes bias. If you’re using words that speak to how you’re feeling, it can potentially influence how your child responds. Staying neutral while using neutral language is a great way to learn your child’s true thoughts and opinions.
Let your child know how important their thoughts are by helping them open up about school.