"How was your day at school, guys?" I ask my kids every day, without fail. Their rote response is "OK" every day, without fail. They don't consciously think about their day and give me an exegesis of events — unless there's a field trip. Knowing how to get your child to talk about their school day is important for a lot of parents, so are there questions that might elicit a more open and real dialogue between you and your kids?
It's easy to fall into patterns like these as a parent. I remember my own mother asking me the same question after school, and not giving her any different response than the ones my children have given me. It's not that there wasn't anything happening — there frequently was — but opening up and sharing what was going on was difficult for me, and it is for most kids, according to Psychology Today. The article noted that your child's automatic response can be as much a self-protective behavior as it is offhanded aside. The problem is, how do we find the right questions that will guide our kids into open-ended conversations wherein they feel comfortable talking to us about their day?
As author Catherine M. Wallace famously said, "Listen earnestly to anything [your children] want to tell you, no matter what. If you don't listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won't tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff."
I want my kids to come to me for anything, and I want them to feel like they can, so what are some thoughtful, provoking questions to ask your child that can facilitate them talking about the small stuff? I asked several elementary school teachers and guidance counselors for some questions they've found to be helpful in getting kids to open up.