How To Get Kids To Talk About Their Day
If you have children in school, pre-school, or even crèche; it can be infuriating trying to find out more about their day, when any questioning is met with a blank face, or ‘it was ok.’ But often this reticence to let you in, is actually because an open question is making their minds go blank, they don’t think things are interesting enough to share (just as we feel), or they don’t know where to start.
So we’ve gathered a few strategies, to help you gain a little more insight into their world:
Play it cool.
I don’t know about you, but after work I certainly like some quiet time to wind down, and process what I have been focusing on all day; before I open up again. This is just the same with little ones. So rather than rushing to talk all about it as soon as you pick them up; enjoy the journey home, and leave time for a snack or some playtime; before really getting into conversation, unless they’re keen to open up immediately. Everyone’s brain needs a little downtime sometimes; so waiting till supper, bath time, or bed, can produce much more relaxed conversations.
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Ever find your mind has gone blank when someone asks what you’ve been up to recently? Children can find it much easier if you break down questions into more specific points; so rather than saying ‘What did you do today?’ Try: What games did you play at break time? Or ‘What did you read today?'
Watch Your Phrasing
Make sure that questions you ask can’t be answered with a single word! So rather than asking if they did something, try ‘what was the best part’ or ‘how did the teacher explain it?’ Also, ‘why’ can sometimes sound like you’re questioning their judgement; so rather than asking ‘Why did you wear that?’ Try ‘What do you think most kids will choose to wear?
Sharing is caring
You may believe that your day will have been dull in comparison to what your little ones are up to; but this is just because you’re so familiar with it. So if your child is having trouble talking about their day, why not start with yours, and see how many interesting points you can put in…it may seem a fascinating insight into life as a grown up; and it can help them to open up.
Sometimes children just love their parents sounding silly. So rather than asking straightforward questions, why not play a guessing game, with outlandish suggestions. ‘Did you have … worm stew for lunch?’ Did you learn … advanced potion making? Did you sit next to … Peppa pig?!’ They’ll delight in explaining just how wrong you are.
Limit the choices
Ever heard or Snog, Marry, Avoid? Limiting the options in questioning means that you aren’t overwhelmed with possible answers. Of course we’re not recommending that line of questioning; but why not ask the 3 best things that happened, 3 things they learned, or get the whole family to choose the Funniest, Best, and Worst parts of the day, or what made you Mad/Sad/Glad?
Turn it into a song/story
There’s nothing like being the hero in a story; so why not make up a song/story about their day, leaving gaps for them to fill in the details? E.g. Tom had toast for breakfast, and went to school with Mummy today ; At school had registration, then started to learn …’ 'At break you all got ... and then it was time for drawing, then ...'
Talk to the hand
If they’re still uncomfortable talking to you about their day, why not turn the attention to their most trusted soft toy? You could either ‘ask’ the toy about their day at home, or you could put on their voice, and get them to ask your little one all the questions. Sometimes toys and pets are much easier to talk to than humans, so don’t deny you haven’t occasionally done it yourself!
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It’s natural to be nosey. If there was an option to plant a spy-cam on a school coat many of us would probably be tempted! But don’t push too hard, or try to ‘fix’ everything, as this may make your child close off from conversation. Instead, once you have got the conversation going; leave space for them to think, and to work things out for themselves, rather than immediately barging in. After all, what better reason to talk, than to fill a silence! Don’t worry, as they get more used to opening up, it will feel much more natural.
So how much do your little (or not so little) ones open up? Do you have any other tips for our moms to break through the impenetrable 'nothing'? We'd love to hear!