How little did I know...When I picked her up, what I experienced was humbling, to say the least. My daughter was tired, despondent, and on the verge of a meltdown. Every day that I picked my daughter up from school, it was the same. Hopeful, I would try a different series of questions. Despite my best efforts, I would be met with resistance and sometimes big emotions.
Trial and ErrorIn fact, it took a lot of trial, error, and time. But I've finally figured out effective strategies to connect with my children when asking them about their day at school.
The first steps to asking about your child's day and getting answers is approach.Three years into this school thing and I now understand that two crucial pieces need to happen before I start asking about my kids' day.
1. I give them snacks before I try to talk to them about anything.By the time I pick them up from school, it's been hours since they've had anything to eat. Also, some kids are so excited and stimulated at school that they may not have eaten as much as they should have. For example, my kindergartener barely eats his lunch despite having ample time and a big appetite. It isn't until I pick him up that he finally eats some real food. Getting their blood sugar up right away is crucial.
2. Wait to take their lead before you dive into questions about their day.The best analogy I can come up with is this. You know how you feel when you just need a moment to finish something and your child bombards you with requests? "Can I have a cookie?" "Can we go to the park?" "How 'bout now?" "How 'bout now?" They feel the same when we ask them a series of questions right after school. But unlike us, our kids lack the self-awareness and emotional regulation to be able to tell us calmly that they need a minute. They tend to just react. Having learnt this the hard way, now when I pick my kids up, I greet them. Then, I wait for them to talk first.
How to ask questions about your child's day and actually get answers!For younger children, it seems 'yes or no' questions are the best place to start. The reason? These sorts of questions require a response other than 'I don't know,' or 'Nothing.' Some of my favorites include:
- Did you have a good day?
- Did you enjoy your lunch?
- Did you read a book during circle time?
- Was it good?
- Did you do any arts and crafts?
- Did you have gym class today?
- Did you laugh today?
- Did you do any puzzles?
- Did you have fun?
- Did you play with so-and-so?
If all else fails, focus on connecting with your child instead of asking them questions.My kids can get quite tired and overstimulated after a long day at school. Sometimes the best course of action is to just be together.
Here are some basic and effective ways to connect after a day of school:
- If it's not too late, go to the park and join in their play.
- Play board games, do puzzles, or color together. All three of these activities are calming and are a great way to enjoy one another's company.
- Sit on the couch with a pile of books and read.
- Go up to your bed and invite the whole family in for a snuggle. Even if it's just five minutes, everyone will leave feeling connected and happy.
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