Ask your child “What did you do today” and we can bet that you will likely be greeted with the same three responses: “Nothing.” “I don’t know.” Or, “I don’t remember”.
While these short replies are incredibly frustrating (how it is even possible to do “nothing” for SIX HOURS?), there is a valid reason why they don’t feel like talking.
More importantly, there is a much simpler way to get kids to open up. No questions needed.
Why won’t they talk?
It can be disheartening picking your child up – whether from school, childcare or a day at grandma’s or dad’s – only to be greeted with barely a word. But, try to think of it from their point of view.
When you get home from another busy day at work, the last thing you want to do is talk about it, right? Unless something particularly awesome or awful happened, you probably don’t think the details of your day will interest anyone. And, you probably can’t wait to put work out of your mind and focus on fun, family and relaxation.
Kids are the same. Sure, you may want to know how they filled the past six hours, but they already know the answer to this. They were there. They were living it. And, now that it’s mum-time again, they are ready to move on and to return to the world of play (without questions).
So, how can you get them to open up?
Don’t ask. Just tell.
Turn the attention towards yourself. Talk about your day – the mundane, tedious and boring details, from being stuck in traffic to fighting with the jammed office printer, from stopping at the supermarket for milk to almost stepping in dog poo … again.
Hopefully, as you talk, the kids will listen … and laugh … and comment. And maybe even take a turn sharing their day with you – what bored them, what annoyed them and what made them laugh. Sometimes, all it takes to help them open up and talk about their day is for you to go first.
It doesn’t matter how mundane your day seems to you. To them, it is a story they haven’t heard before. And it’s worth listening to and expanding on with their own experiences.
Give this parenting trick a try at the dinner table this week and see if it works for you. It works like clockwork for the Mum’s Grapevine families. If we talked about our day, the kids listened. And when they grow tired of listening to us babble on and on, they talk. Because sometimes it’s more interesting talking about your day than listening to mum talk about dog poop, again.
(Image via Flickr/ Ryan Polei)