We wait for our children to get back from school and there is an instant urge to know all details possible about how their day went. However, what we generally get is – ‘It was fine/ good/ okay’. That’s it!
No matter how much we press, we are never going to get anything out of them, until they are willing to share – which is very rare. True, there are also some children who are super chatty and want to give you every tiny bit of download about everything. But to get kids to talk about their day at school, especially those who prefer being reserved for no reason at all can be tricky. I have two kids myself, who exhibit contrasting preferences when it comes to sharing their feelings. It can get frustrating at times, but patience and perseverance is the key.
Find below 5 strategies that will help you to build a mode of communication and get kids to talk about their day at school:
1. Ask non-judgemental questions
Sometimes it might be a good idea to not directly ask about things you want to know. If kids start to feel that there might be a judgment or opinion from your side on a particular subject, they want to share, they might hold it back. A better strategy to get the child to talk about their day will be to ask questions around that particular topic. For e.g., Rather than, ‘How did you do in your coloring activity today?’, ask – “I think you used a lot of colors today, you look tired.” or rather than asking ‘Why didn’t you eat your lunch?’, start with ‘Did you like the pancake today, I think it was a bit hard?’. Once they get in the groove, you can move ahead to know more.
2. Don’t Be Distracted
Leave everything to respond when they are opening up to you. If you are really interested in knowing, the most crucial thing to give them is your full attention. Keep your phones aside, disconnect the call if you can, and sit with them. Look in the eye and listen like you truly care. This kind of attention will ensure them that you value their feelings. They will be more eager than just comfortable to talk about their day at school.
3. Don’t ask too many questions
When kids start sharing, it might feel as if we have a small window to quench all our doubts. However, asking too many questions might indicate that either you are getting anxious or too excited, and it can tick them off. They might even feel you are being interrogative and just want to pull out a piece of particular information. The better approach to get your child to talk about their day would be to listen more and ask less. You can spread your questions for the rest of your day and ask them at intervals.
4. Patience is a virtue
This should be the mantra of every parent’s life. I completely get the urge to instantly ask them all the questions running through my mind, the moment I see them. We want to know about their tiffin, their tests, their projects, and their presentations. However, the moment you realize they are not in the mood to talk, hold your horses. Rushing will drive them to close. With every question, analyze the mood of your child, and the moment you start to feel even a subtle hint of annoyance, just patiently let them know,
“I would love it if you share, but you can tell me when you feel like’ or “I will wait for you to come back and share when you are comfortable”. Show them that you are interested but you will wait for them to tell you.
5. Don’t become the Counsellor
Just listen! We tend to get in the flow of being a parent very easily every time. It feels like our duty to rescue them or counsel them even if they aren’t asking for it. So, the best strategy to get kids to talk about their day at school to you would be to just let them share and respond to them in acknowledgments. Being a mom, I know how difficult it is. You feel like it is your responsibility to just teach them a life lesson, counsel them about a better approach, or impart your worldly-wise perspective, every time they are talking about something personal. But that would not be the best approach to get your child to talk about their day. If you feel there is a need to teach or advise them about something, find a more peaceful and comfortable time later.
As these little ones grow up, it will keep getting more challenging to know about their big and small feelings. But with patience, perseverance, and love, these initial years will prove to be very useful in building a strong foundation of relationships between you and your child.