Does it ever feel like you’re talking to a wall when you ask your kids about their day?
If you’re like most parents, when you ask your child about his or her day at school or camp, you’re met with a plain old, “it was fine.”
So how do you get the details you want – without having to pry?
As the director of a 14-year running French Day Camp in the GTA, I’ve come up with a few simple strategies you can use to get your child to tell you about his or her day at camp or school.
#1 Stop Asking, “How was your day?”
Instead of asking “so how was your day at camp?” – ask more specific questions and make sure they are open-ended.
Try these questions:
Be sure to listen empathetically while your child speaks. Show your interest by following up with more open-ended questions. By pausing to listen and asking questions at the right time, you’ll find that your child will be enthusiastically telling you about their day without even knowing it.
#2 Learn their schedule
Asking “how was arts & crafts today?” demands a more thoughtful response than simply asking, “what did you do today?”
Make it a point to consult your child’s schedule before they get home from camp or school, so you can be prepared to ask them relevant questions about their day. Was there a French concert at Camp Tournesol today? Check out who it was on our website and ask specifically: “How was the magician today?
#3 Talk about YOUR day
Act as the model and start the conversation off with giving fun and interesting anecdotes about your day. Your child will relax and feel more comfortable reciprocating and sharing details about his or her day. Try to be as specific as possible to really engage him or her and show that you want to share with them.
#4 Wait Until You Are In The Right Environment
Kids are often more open and willing to talk in the car or in darker rooms where they can avoid excessive eye contact. It makes the conversation feel less threatening, making it easier for your child to share his or her thoughts openly. Do not engage them in front of their friends or other children at camp pick up. There are too many people and distractions both for your child and yourself! Try to catch them before they move on to another activity after camp. For example, if they have a soccer game to attend in the evening, try to ask them to sit with you for a few minutes while you prepare dinner before the game and engage them at that time.
#5 Listen carefully
When your child mentions an issue they had during the day, you might want to be the superhero and save the day. But sometimes it’s best to avoid jumping in with your own solutions and listen instead to your child’s point of view. Be sure to keep your facial expression relaxed and breathe slowly and deeply so you avoid showing signs of judgment as you listen.
Check in with yourself every so often and make sure you are truly listening to what your child is saying and you are not distracted thinking about what you want to say next. Ask them how they feel about the issue and how they resolved it or think it should be resolved. Children will pick up on your reaction and it might affect their enjoyment of the camp the next day.
They will then be more likely to bring up other issues with you in the future if they feel empowered!
What are your strategies to getting your children to tell you about their day at school or camp?
Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.