Do you have trouble getting your kids to talk after school? Or maybe they have just been gone for an hour or the day. For us, this looks like after their co-op day when we are apart for several hours. As the protector of my kids, I want to hear about their days the joy, and the sorrows. I want to help give them the tools they need to build better relationships. I also want them to go into their teen years knowing that I’m a safe person to share with!
Here are some things we have found helpful in our family!
Create an Environment for Conversation
Sometimes this is setting out a snack on the island, lighting a candle, and sitting together. Other times it’s bringing them into my cozy “alone corner” to rock with me and talk. Bedtime is another favorite chatting time.
When I take the time to set the mood and make it special I find that they are more apt to open up and chat. If they are alone with me they are also less distracted. Being alone also helps them feel safer than if they have to say whatever they are thinking in front of the whole family.
Ask Good Questions
- What was the best part of your day?
- What was the worst part of your day?
- Did you see each other today?
- Whom did you play with?
- What did you enjoy learning?
- Did you learn something hard?
- Did you learn something interesting?
- Whom did you sit beside?
- Did you write in books?
- What games did you play?
- Who were you kind to?
- Who was kind to you?
- Did you see anyone left out?
Draw it Out
When kids are pretty little remembering what happened during a day can feel really overwhelming. Telling you about anything more than one incident isn’t likely.
To help jog their memory I’ve found sitting together and drawing the classroom is really helpful. It doesn’t have to be accurate, but ask them to help you fill in the details. Where did they sit? Where did the teacher sit? Who sat next to them? What toys did they play with on the rug?
Then move to the playground and draw the playground. Ask where the slide is. Did they slide on it? Who did they slide with?
As we work on this project they become more and more excited! Often so many details otherwise missed come tumbling out!
From what I experienced this is key! If there is food they stick around longer. From what I’ve heard from moms of teens this doesn’t change over time either.
Be Patient – Give them Time
When my kids are gone I miss them. I want to hear all about how their day went when they get home, but some kids need some time before answering questions. Waiting an hour or two can help them process internally which allows them to communicate better with you. If this is the case, getting your kids to talk after school may actually look like waiting for bedtime.
They also aren’t probably going to start with the most tender pieces of information. It’s easy to become impatient wishing they would “Just spill it.” But that isn’t how mothering works. Listening to hours of mundane is what builds the trust to hear the harder things later on.