That’s how kids tend to answer the “How was your day?” question. And for parents and caregivers, that can be really frustrating.
Here are some suggestions for learning more about your child’s time at school, camp, daycare or with the nanny.
Ask over Playtime
Most adults want a little down time after work, and kids are no different. Welcome your child home and be close at hand while they enjoy a snack. Next, invite your child to help with dinner or engage in a fun activity.
This method can be especially helpful with your teenager. Teens can be far more challenging than toddlers when it comes to talking about their day. Taking a walk, going for a drive or taking part in an activity together will give you a golden opportunity to talk.
Ask Open-Ended Questions
These types of questions lead to answers that invite additional back-and-forth. Instead of asking a vague question like “How was your day?”, ask about a friend your child normally plays with, a project your child has been involved with or a test your child took.
Listen, Engage and Show Interest
The other side of open-ended questions is active listening. This means responding with a statement that shows you’re listening. If your child says, ‘We played outside,’ ask, ‘What toys did you like playing with outside?’. If your child approaches you, take a break and listen.
Eliminate Electronic Distractions
Kids can get out of practice talking and relating to others when there’s too much screen time. Texting and phone calls can wait until after dinner. Make sure mom and dad model this behavior.
Model Healthy Communication
Talk about you day and your child will soon join in the discussion. Try starting conversations with your partner such as, ‘Guess what I learned today?’. Kids will often get excited and want to join in the conversation.
Set Aside Time for Talking
It’s also important to get into a routine. The ride home from school, dinner time, bedtime snuggles. These can all be part of your routine to learn about each other’s day. Model this by sharing a work story about a specific incident from your day.
Talk to Your Caregiver
Did you hire a nanny or after-school sitter to watch your kids in the afternoon? If you aren’t home when your kids get out of school, ask your sitter what they experience. The quiet child you experience might just be tired after rehashing the school day with your nanny – especially since it’s sometimes easier to talk to a person who isn’t a parent. Get the highlights from your nanny and let your kids know that they can always talk to you.
Know the Gist Before Asking
Know what’s happening at school and with your child’s friends. Visit the school’s website often, read school newsletters, connect with your child’s teachers on social media, talk with other parents and volunteer in the classroom. Encourage your child to invite friends over after school or at the weekend. All of these will help you ask more specific questions your child will be more likely to answer.
Recognize a Quiet Kid vs. a Struggling Kid
Some kids are naturally quiet. Red flags that there may be a deeper problem include when your children are ambivalent about things they used to enjoy, experience a sudden change in friends, have a lack of friends or become sullen or irritable. Also, if your normally talkative child suddenly doesn’t want to talk about his or her day, there may be a problem.
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When communicating with your child, the most important thing is to remember the basics of good parenting. When you model what you want a child to do, they will learn. Talk about your own day, set healthy limits and hold kids accountable for their actions. Doing this in a loving way helps kids respond lovingly as well.