Kids thrive on routine just like adults do. One thing I love about the school year is that our whole family gets into a better routine when the kids are. I am better at getting things done, getting my exercise in, and checking off my to-do list.
My kids are better about getting going in the mornings, eating dinner well, and going to bed quickly. But, I miss my time to talk to them all day! Getting kids to open up about their school day can be tough, but here are a few ways to help them do so.
Eliminate Distractions: If you really want your kids to talk, you are going to need their undivided attention. But, the rules apply to you to. Right after school give your child a chance to connect by keeping the tv off, putting phones way, and just being together. With distractions removed you are both ready to really engage in conversation.
Ask questions: I think all parents start with, “How was your day?” only to be met with cookie cutter answers like, “Fine.” Try being more specific. Try jogging their memory or finding something about their day that really speaks interest. Some ideas might be:
- What did you do first?
- What did you play at recess?
- Who did you sit with at lunch?
- How was math today?
- Did you get to go to the library?
- Who made you laugh today?
Listen for answers: I mean, really LISTEN. Ask more questions. “Oh, you got to go to PE today? I know last week you were really hoping that you guys would play soccer, have you had a chance to yet?” Get them excited about something and run with it.
The more they talk, the easier it will be to move to new subjects or get more details. The most important thing you can do is show them that what they are saying is important to you.
We have all been in the situation where you get stuck in a never ending story of he said, she said, that seems to be pointless. To your child, these are funny or great things that happened to them.
No matter how irrelevant they may seem to you, they can tell when you are listening and they can tell when you are tuning them out. Remember things they have said, follow up on subjects you talked about earlier in the week, they will notice that you are paying attention. They will begin to feel more comfortable opening up.
Talk About Your Day: When you are catching up with a friend, you don’t just talk about one friend or the other. You exchange conversation back and forth. Your kids are people!
Treat these talks like you are sitting down with your best friends over dinner. “That is so funny, I ran to the store today and guess what happened…” You have to model proper conversation with your child, they will take their cues from you.
Make It Routine: Me and my kids sit down for a snack right after we walk in the door from school. We do it every single day. My kids know to head right to the table where we chat and eat together! I look forward to this time. It gives us a time to connect and a time to refuel for the rest of the day.