How To Get Kids to Open Up about Their Day

How To Get Kids to Open Up about Their DayIt probably happens millions of times every day across America. A caring, hopeful parent asks, “What did you do today at school?” only to get a response like “nothing” or “I don’t know.” It is utterly frustrating to those who truly want the details about their child’s day. We’re here to help with tips on how to get kids to open up about their day to reduce some of the tension from this scenario.

For those of you with children too young to talk or who stick with you all day, there’s a message in here for you as well. The trust required to get kids to open up about their day begins in infancy. When your baby or toddler cries or seeks affection and you are there for him, he knows you care and you are a sounding board for all sorts of emotions, observations and eventually retelling events. Building this bond in infancy is vital to maintaining it as your child grows.

Here are our tips to get kids to open up about their day:

Tip #1: Don’t Ask Right Away

Your child has just spent hours being “on” where he had to focus, behave and follow directions. If you bombard him with questions immediately, he may feel overwhelmed. Instead, give him some space and let him lead the conversation. Or if he just wants some peace and quiet for awhile, that’s fine too. Use this time to show him you’re in his corner, by giving him a snack or asking what activity he wants to do in the afternoon or evening. After about 30 minutes, you can begin employing some of our other tips to get kids to open up about their day and you’ll probably have more success.

Tip #2: Ask Specific Questions

You’ve probably heard this one before. Rather than asking “how was your day” or “what did you do today,” which are very broad and require a lot of work to boil down into a few short sentences, ask something specific like “what made you laugh today” or “what questions did you ask today.” If you know your child’s schedule or are keeping up with the curriculum, ask about those things, such as what games he played in PE, what book was read in the library or what he learned about telling time or the solar system. These more specific items can trigger his memory and get the conversation going.

Tip #3: Ask about Feelings Rather Than Events

Sometimes the feelings are more important than the events of the day. You’ll probably get a vibe from your child immediately when you reunite. If your child seems upbeat or wired you can use that as a conversation starter such as, “wow you seem really excited about something – what gave you all of this energy today?” On the flip side, if your child seems sad or nervous, after some time try saying something like “it seems like something is bothering you, do you want to talk about it?”

Tip #4: Encourage and Engage

Once you find a way to start the conversation, keep it going by giving your child as much direct attention as possible. Stop what you are doing, look him in the eyes, get at his level, sit next to him. Use interested words like “wow,” really?” “so cool” and “you’re so lucky you got to do that.” If he shares new things he learned, thank him for teaching you too. Sometimes repeating what your child says also encourages more dialogue. Try to avoid any negative or judgmental commentary and don’t overreact to anything either.

Tip #5: Find Ways to Connect

Your child opening up about his day is really about his connection to you. While you certainly have a lifelong bond, he may not always feel the immediate connection due to the hustle and bustle of your lives. Try to find a way to connect by doing something fun or special, even if only for a few minutes. These are the times your child will feel close and want to open up. Plus, when you’re working on something together – say building a cardboard car or doing a puzzle – your child will feel more at ease and parts of his day can slip into conversation.

Sources: Today’s Parent, Michele Borba and Aha Parenting