12 ways to get your kids to open up about their day

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When your children are at school and away from you for six whole hours, it’s completely normal to want to know what they got up to in that time. For many parents, questions about their day don’t provide any real answers! Thankfully there are ways around needling out the information you want.

Here are 12 great conversation starters to have with your children to find out more about how their day really was at school!

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12 ways to get your kids to open up about their day

Dr Anna Cohen, author of ‘Taming Teens’ and ‘Parenting Made Easy’ tells The Healthy Mummy the most important thing to remember is that it’s not the best time to talk about school with your child when you immediately pick them up.

Dr Anna explains, “Most kids don’t want to talk about school at that time. They’ve just done enough hours of school and the last thing they want to do is to talk about it.

“You might ask how their day was – but that can lead to one-word answers such as, ‘good’or ‘ok’.

Boys and girls are very different

“When it comes to opening up, the BOYS do better, particularly when there is no direct eye contact – it is less intense for them. So in the car, while they are doing things – boys tend to speak when they’re ‘doing’. It is less confrontational and they feel more relaxed to speak. Having said that, boys also like to debrief later on in the day“, said Dr Anna.

Knowing what your child is learning at school can also help you to find out about their day – ask open-ended questions to get the answers you are looking for. For example, “Oh, it was library day today, how was that?”

Specific questions lead to yes/no answers

Dr Anna says for younger children you could say, “tell me what you played at lunch-time today” and that will really draw them in to think about what they actually played at school that day. For an older child, keep it more general and ask them what they did at lunch-time that day.

If children are bringing home school work or artwork you can talk about this – it is something concrete to start a conversation.

Ultimately, bedtime is still one of the better times to get your kids to open up as that is when they are most relaxed and have had time to wind down. Read more on why kids want to talk at bedtime HERE.

When you are asking your child questions, try to reflect back to them using great communication skills.  For example, if your child comes home and says they’ve had a really bad day, respond with “you’ve had a really tough day today”. Reflecting back on what you hear them say makes a child feel like they have really been listened to and promotes for further conversation.

The most important thing you can do is listen. Really listen, before you respond or react.

12 great conversation starters

  • What was the best and worst part of your day?
  • What did you do in Science today (art, music etc.)?
  • What subject did you enjoy the most today? Why?
  • Who made you smile today? Why?
  • What was the funniest thing that happened today?
  • Did you find anything hard today?
  • What games did you play at lunch/recess?
  • What’s the nicest thing you did for someone today?
  • What are you looking forward to tomorrow?
  • Did your teacher get upset at anyone?
  • What did you read today?
  • Was any of your friends away today? How did that make you feel?

Don’t fire off a long list of questions and expect a response for them all. Just pick one or two a day and have a good discussion around it. And don’t forget to add little snippets of info about your day too and really join in the conversation together.

Make it fun, turn it into a game if it lightens the mood more. Often sitting around the dinner table taking in turns to share something is a great way to get kids to open up.

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