Parents, are you tired of the same silence that greets you every school day at 4pm when you excitedly ask, “How was your day?” Let’s think why our children may choose not to open up to us at this point in the day. It is pretty simple. After a long day at school they can be utterly exhausted from the concentration levels required in lessons, the physical exercise, the demands of socialising with friends, the rigid routines of the school day and the pressure to be polite and well behaved to peers and teachers alike. When they get picked up by mum or dad, or arrive home and dump their bag in the hall, do you honestly think they want to hear a barrage of questions such as “What did you do today?” “Who did you sit beside?” “What did you have for lunch?” “Did you eat the carrots I put in your lunchbox?”!
Our children can be shattered after school and don’t deserve the third degree.
Tip 1: “It is a waiting game”
They will want to tell you how their day was, but not yet! Bide your time and sure enough, facts, thoughts and feelings about the school day will come out. It might be while you are watching Scooby Doo together over a biscuit and squash, or it might be while you are washing their hair in the bath. For older children, you might hear the necessary snippets when you are driving them to a friend’s house or doing the dishes together over the sink. In fact, teens often prefer “side by side” conversations that do not require too much direct eye contact.
Tip 2: ‘Model’ the sharing
If you really can’t wait for the news of your child’s school day was, simply try talking about your own day (what you did, what you struggled with, who you met up with for a cuppa and why it may have qualified as a *good* day). Imparting your own tale might just prompt your kids to share theirs.
Tip 3: Put a number on it
A quick way of getting the scoop on the school day is to give children a simple scale. “On a scale of 1-10 where 10 means “totally amazing” how was your day?” Even very young children get what you are driving at and will confidently give you a number. If they give you a number lower down the scale, ask what would have made it a 10? With my two boys, getting to a 10 greatly depends on the availability of donuts after a sports match! or on whether double maths gets cancelled!
Tip 4: The more open the question, the bigger the answer
A sure fired way to get a monosyllabic answer is to ask a closed question such as “did you do your homework?” YES! or “Did you eat all your lunch” YES! If you need more detail, then make the questions open-ended and broader. Anything that can be answered with a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ should be avoided.
Tip 5: When the talking starts – get prompting
At last they start telling you the story of the day, who got on their nerves, what they think of their new teacher, how much homework they have and the last thing you want is for them to stop talking! That is where prompting comes in. Don’t interrupt them at this point, just give them time to put their thoughts in order. Simple “Hmm hmms”, “Really?” Or “Wow! that is so interesting” will be enough to show them you are listening, care and are taking their feelings and experiences on board.
Kathy September 2nd, 2015
Posted In: Blog posts