“How was your day at school?”
Is this something you’ve heard before? This is the dreaded response to a well-intentioned question from a parent.
The robot-like response is what parents hear when their child limits or stops sharing information about their school day with their parents.
When parents hear the word “fine,” they may react in a variety of ways. Some parents may seek answers by asking more questions. However, research has shown that asking too many questions, especially to developing teenagers, can feel invasive.
Other parents may stop asking because they are sick of hearing the same answer. Children who perceive poor communication from their parents, on the other hand, report more mental and behavioral health problems, according to research.
It’s beneficial for parents to be aware of their preschooler’s or kindergartners’ day, and not just because bullying can occur behind closed doors. Parents can help a child put the events of the day into context, but they can’t if the child is naturally reticent, embarrassed, ashamed, or guilty about something that happened at school. So, what should parents do? They can begin by acknowledging that parents and children are on the same side. It is silence that is the issue.
“Your child adores you and wishes to communicate with you, but there is some natural resistance.” “The resistance is your adversary, not your child,” says behavioral and cognitive psychologist Shane Owens,
Ph. D “You’re speaking to your child, not a criminal suspect.”
The long game is best Ask them about their day from a young age forming a habit that will last a lifetime. Before encouraging a preschooler to talk about what happened at daycare, parents can model the type of behavior they want to see by talking about their days. Positive, gentle conversations can help ease the transition into the more emotionally charged territory. A child who has a habit of sharing information, and who suddenly stops talking about school could indicate that something is wrong. When this happens, parents must be extra patient.
Kids who are hesitant to open up about their day are unlikely to share any faster if their mother or father is bombarding them with questions. Sitting with them and doing something else gives them time to organize their thoughts and bring them up when they are ready. It also allows parents to simply enjoy themselves with their child, making it easier for the child to open up the next time.
But suppose the child never tries to open up, even after an hour of Legos. It’s fine to ask questions, but parents should be aware that simple questions are easily answered in a simple way that does not necessarily lower the child’s reserve.
Parental communication has been shown in studies to protect against low self-esteem and poor academic achievement in children of all ages. A high level of parental involvement can also have a positive impact on children’s school engagement, educational goals, and academic outcomes. Positive communication, in particular, can strengthen feelings of connectedness between parents and children.
Communication skills, like all aspects of development, evolve.
Conversations with young children during the school day typically revolve around school subjects, new friendships, or concrete experiences. A young child, for example, might say, “I played on the monkey bars at recess!”
You can help your young child’s development even more by organizing and labeling their experiences. “I noticed Joey took your toy today,” for example. “How did you feel about that?” Labeling emotions for children can also be beneficial, such as saying, “It sounds like you were feeling angry because Joey took your toy.”
Your child’s friendships become increasingly important to them. They might be more interested in discussing their new peer relationships than in schoolwork. Try expressing your interest by inquiring about their friends, such as, “Tell me about your friend.” “What do they enjoy doing during recess?”
Kids may begin to perceive your questions as demands, resulting in less information sharing. To begin a conversation, it may be easier to approach questions by asking about your child’s peers. “What do your friends think about the new science teacher?” You could ask.
Adolescence is defined as developing one’s personal identity and independence. As a result, your adolescent may seek more privacy and disclose less information to you. You can encourage these developmental milestones by demonstrating your interest in their opinions, granting your teen privacy when necessary, and allowing them to participate in family decision-making.
Regardless of your child’s age, remember that the frequency of small, positive conversations with your child over time outweighs the importance of lengthy, drawn-out conversations.
If their children appear unresponsive, parents should not give up trying to communicate with them.
Establishing a family tradition of talking about the day builds communication habits in kids.
A child may refuse to answer questions. Simply spending time with a child doing something else can allow them to open up.
A bizarre question that makes them laugh or allows them to correct their parents can disarm children.
Asking for advice on a situation that is similar to the child’s can encourage the child to open up.
Parents must pay close attention to their children, especially if the child is generally quiet.
“You can throw a kid’s resistance off balance by asking a deliberately silly or incorrect question,” Owens suggests. “My wife and I will frequently ask our daughter questions like, ‘Did you eat three bagels for lunch today?’ to get our daughter who is a picky eater and reticent with details to tell us about what she ate. She enjoys pointing out when we are wrong or ridiculous.”
That approach may not work as well once a child is old enough to roll their eyes in disgust at their parents’ clowning.
In that case, parents can use what they know about their child to make an educated guess about the problem and phrase the question as a request for assistance.
“Another thing that works well with older kids is asking them to help you solve a problem similar to the one they’re having,” Owens says. “For example, if you suspect your daughter is having problems with one of her friends, you could tell her, ‘I’m having this problem with a friend of mine who isn’t responding to my texts.’ What do you think she’s attempting to convey to me? ‘Do you think she’s mad at me?'”
It’s a show of empathy from the parent as well as an exercise in empathy for the child. It gives parents insight into what their child is going through and allows kids to think about their own problems from a distance. And, whatever information is revealed by any technique, parents must pay attention and remember what their child is saying, especially since they may not get another chance.
Communication must be two-way. How can parents communicate with their children when they do not appear to be responsive?
“How was your day?” Is a closed-ended question because it can only be answered with one word. Certainly, for some children, this question could spark a lengthy discussion. For others, however, these questions result in the conversation stoppers mentioned above.
If this is the case, start the conversation with an open-ended question like “Tell me what you liked best about your day.” As a lead-in, you could reflect on something you noticed: “I see you’re now in a mixed grade with older kids.” “What did you notice about the fourth graders?”
At the end of the school day, children are often exhausted. If they are not ready to talk right away, try to postpone your questions until they have had time to relax and eat. They might be willing to talk about their school day after they’ve been refueled.
You might want to know something specific about your child’s day, such as whether they were bullied or if they were upset by someone. However, direct questions such as “Why are you so angry?” Can feel like an invasion of privacy.
If you’re worried about your child, take a different approach to the question. You could go the indirect route and say something like, “You seemed upset after school, what happened?” Alternatively, start a conversation with a broad question, such as “Do you think any of the kids in your class are being bullied?
Parents who listen demonstrate an interest in and understanding of their child. However, becoming a good listener takes practice. Put away devices, maintain eye contact, and give your child full attention when they tell you about their day.
If your child mentions that they are having difficulty at school, such as with a peer or teacher, or understanding their math homework, resist the urge to fix it for them.
Instead, use it as an opportunity to encourage problem-solving by encouraging your child to brainstorm a few possible solutions to their problem. Then serve them in selecting what appears to be the best solution and evaluating whether the solution was effective. If not, return to the drawing board and try again!
It can be about if your child stops talking about their daily activities. This is especially true if your once-chirpy child has suddenly turned into a closed book. If you notice significant changes in your child’s behavior, you should consult with his or her family doctor, teacher, or mental health professional.
Committing to communicating with our children entails making the effort to truly connect with them. Parents who repeatedly ask questions that are intentional, caring, and engaging may be surprised to discover that their children want to talk about their school day without being prompted.
Have any inquiries, contact us for personalized education plans and special needs education programs.