Many parents struggle to get their kids to open up. We’d like to stay informed with the events in our children’s lives, but that becomes impossible when they refuse to talk to us. So what are the right questions for kids to open up and communicate with you? When and how should you ask them? Is it even worth asking them at this point? By the end of this article, hopefully you’ll have a better understanding of these topics and more.
Why You Should Ask
Although your child may not be naturally communicative, verbally processing experiences can help your child make better sense of them. This is particularly important when it comes to education. If a child can practice metacognition — that is, thinking about their way of thinking — then they become much more active learners.
Choosing appropriate questions for kids is also important to establish a healthy parent-child relationship. Open lines of communication benefit you as the parent because you get to know your child better; they benefit your child because they’ll feel more comfortable sharing stories with you, whether they are positive, neutral, or even negative. So please, don’t be afraid to ask!
When To Ask
First, you want to associate communication with positive feelings. Sometimes this means finding the right time to ask your child about their day. Child psychologist Kenneth Barish offers some advice about this: he suggests to wait until your child has settled in at home before asking about their school day. This gives your child a little bit of down time, which often makes them a bit more willing to open up. School can be exhausting. Students of all ages are asked questions all day long at school. By allowing them to have some down time, you create a more positive atmosphere when you try to engage them later on.
How To Ask: Questions for Kids
As mentioned earlier, you want to keep conversations positive, so as to encourage further engagement. With that in mind, try to frame your questions as positively as possible. Here are some good starters:
- What part(s) of today’s lessons did you find most enjoyable?
- (If they answer multiple things to the previous question) Which was more entertaining? Why?
- Do you identify more with Topic/Subject A or Topic/Subject B?
- I remember enjoying [insert topic/subject here] when I was in school. How do you feel about it?
Another way I like to recap a day’s activities is through the “Rose, Thorn, and Bud” exercise. The rose represents someone’s favorite part of the day, or just something that made them smile; the thorn represents the worst part of their day, something frustrating or upsetting or annoying; and the bud represents something that person is looking forward to, whether it’s during that same day or some other time in the future.
I enjoy this exercise because it allows children to acknowledge the disappointments in life, but it also helps them recognize the joys, even if they are small. Feel free to start the exercise to get everything going! Sharing your own ups and downs shows your child that you are human, too, which might make it easier for them to share more with you.
For more tips on questions for kids, check out the rest of Barrish’s article. If your child expresses frustration toward schoolwork and you’re in the St. Charles, IL area, Learning Ascent is here to help. Please call us for tutoring and scheduling information at 630-587-2795.