"How was school?" 2 ways to get more than a one word answer!
Kids are so different, even within the same family. At the end of the school day some kids share every detail while others need to be gently prodded for just the slightest bit of information. How can parents find out the details we really want?
Tune in 3 ways! Whether it’s your chatty child or the quiet one who is finally opening up, use all 3 Channels of Communication to let him know you’re focused and listening.
1. Body Language: Your body should indicate you’re paying attention.
Sit facing your child
Eye contact is critical (shut the laptop and put away your phone)
Sit with an open frame (arms aren’t crossed)
For quieter kids, sitting side-by-side or chatting while cooking together is a great way to put them at ease!
2. Words: Your words and reactions should show interest
Ask simple questions (i.e., “What did you do then?”)
Give verbal prompts such as “Really?” or “You’re kidding!” to keep them talking
Listen in a non-judgmental, non-advising way so your child will continue to want to share with you.
3. Tone of Voice: Your tone will indicate your reaction to what they are sharing.
Try to stay neutral while your child is sharing a story, it will help him feel comfortable and safe
Avoid a judgmental tone, it will shut down the conversation
Sound interested, it will encourage them to discuss other issues with you
Timing is key! Give ‘em 30!
Wait about 30 minutes after he arrives home from school before asking questions.
Allow kids time to decompress, grab a snack, relax and unwind. Remember, they’ve been working hard, answering questions, participating in discussions and dealing with social issues all day!
One last suggestion, be diligent about figuring out your child’s “chat time.” Does he like to talk right after school or does he prefer talking while engaged in an activity with you? Being ready to listen whenever he starts sharing will allow your child to know that you are always there for him.