In this article:
- How to ask questions to get your child really talking other than replying “Today was OK”?
- Questions to ask your child about school
How to ask questions to get your child really talking other than replying “Today was OK”?
When your kids are reluctant to talk more
The school year has started. You picked up your daughter from school. After buckling up, you started to ask her enthusiastically, “So, how’s your day, Darling?” She looked at you from the mirror for a second before looking out the window again, and murmuring a quick “Fine,” and it went silent.
You quickly tried other thing to get her talk more.
“I see.. so what did you have for lunch?”
“Whom did you sit with during lunch?”
“The usual group.”
“Which is…. who, again?”
“Mom, you asked me this before. And for a few times already. It’s the same friends. Can’t you remember my friends’ name?”
By then, she got irritated, and you got irritated by her answer and you’re thinking ‘What’s wrong with her, I thought I’m just trying to ask more questions other than how’s your day? Why talking to kids are so difficult nowadays??’
Why you would want to get them open up
So this is what happened normally once your kids entering the school-going age.
They will most likely spend almost half of their waking hours outside home.
This is a phase when they will learn A LOT about handling social situations.
Like, how to make friends with someone new.
What to do if nobody wants to sit with you during recess.
How to ask if it’s OK to join a group of other kids during lunch.
And the list goes on.
And I believe a huge part to ease this phase, is by having a lot of talk with your kids. About what happened in school.
Perhaps you didn’t realize it, but sometimes social situations can be hard for your kids.
That is why having a relaxed chat and letting them opened up will ease it a little. You can then share your own stories (share, not preach).
Slowly this would help to build up their confidence.
Pre-teens and teens are also an important phase of insecurity.
There’s a reason why “self-esteem” started with the word “SELF”.
It should start from inside out. It should not start with believing what others said about them matters more to determine who they are.
They don’t need to be the pretty slim girl to be a good student. They don’t need to beg for that new edition smart watch just because all the popular kids have it. They don’t need to join cheerleaders club just because all the prettiest girls in school do that.
They should know they don’t need to follow their friends actions just because they want to “fit-in”.
They should feel safe in their own mind and body.
They should know they’re unique in their own ways.
Nurturing child’s self-esteem from home
By being parents who really take time to listen to them.
By letting them to share their story without too quickly to judge, or giving out solution.
By appreciating their effort, regardless of the result.
By telling them their positive sides.
Or just being there when they relax at home, doing homework, or studying for exams.
All these little things would tremendously help them feel safe and comfortable to open up more.
And when they do, then you can slowly share your experiences or opinions. Guide them to be OK with their own self.
This article share over 10 very interesting tips on how parents can help building child’s self esteem from home.
Did you ask repetitive boring questions?
Ok you might think, “I’ve already tried to ask questions other than the common ‘How’s your day’, but my child is still not willing to talk more.”
One possibility is, if you’re asking similar question over and over again, and you didn’t seem to remember any of their previous answers, your child might feel like it is just small talks. And not because you really want to know about their day.
I tried to remember some details like, the name of their close friends, their teacher’s name, their favorite meal at the canteen, the subject they like or loathe, and so on.
So instead of repeating the same “Who did you sit with during lunch today?”, sometimes I’d change it to “Did you sit with Anna and Maryam again today?”
You can spice up your questions with some Yes/No answers, but with mentioning some details you’ve heard from them about their school.
“Did Mr. A scold those noisy boys again in your class today?”
“Oh, is Ben still your class leader for this month?”
Show your child that you’re paying attention to their story all this while.
Questions to ask your child every day
Here I compiled a list of questions (which I think not too widely overused) you might want to try to get them talking.
Questions to ask about their friends
- Was anybody absent from class today?
- Was there anyone telling a joke today that makes you laugh? Tell me the joke!
- Did any kids create trouble with teachers today? Who? What did they do?
- Did someone borrow your pencils/eraser today? Did they lost theirs?
- Which friend did you enjoy talking with the most?
- Is there any friend that you wanted to come to their house to play together? Who is that, where do they live?
- Which friend do you think like to help teachers a lot? What did they do?
Questions to ask about their teachers and class
- Who is your favorite teacher? Why do you like them?
- Do you think science (or other subjects) hard or just OK for you?
- What’s your favorite subject?
- Did any teacher give out some presents for any student today?
- Did any teacher scold someone in class today?
- Did you ever help your teacher to clean up the whiteboard?
- Who sat next to you today? Was it the same as yesterday?
- Which teacher gave the most homework in school?
- Which one do you prefer, helping teachers to clean up the whiteboard or to sweep the classroom?
- What do you think is the most important rules in class, that your teacher keep repeating to all of you?
Questions to ask about recess time
- Who did you sit with during lunch today? Did you sit with (insert their friends’ name here)?
- Is there anyone that you’ve never sit with before during lunch? Who is that?
- Did anyone share some food/snacks with you during recess?
- Who do you think bring an awesome lunch box today? And what did they have?
- Was there anyone from other classes sit with you at the canteen today?
- Did you eat (insert one of their favorite canteen food) again today?
- Is there any canteen food you’ve never tried before?
Questions to ask about their feeling
- Did anyone making you smile today? What did they do?
- Did anyone making you annoyed today? What did they do?
- What’s the nicest thing someone had done to you today?
- Do you think you did something nice to someone today? What did you do?
- Has anyone said something that hurt you, or things you don’t like? What did they say?
- What’s the hardest thing you have to do today?
- Did you try to do something new today?
Questions to ask about future or what they would change if they can
- If you became a teacher one day, what subject would you teach?
- If you can choose your class, would you choose a different class?
- If you can make one homework disappear, which subject would you choose?
- If you can change your school uniform, what color would you want it to be?
- If you can suggest to school to have a new CCA, what would it be?
- If you can repaint your classroom, what color would you choose?
Conclusions: How do you get your child to talk about school
Now hopefully you have better ideas on what questions to ask your child about their school.
But, the question itself is only one part of the equation.
The words you’re saying is not the only one matter here. Your voice tone and body language play a part too.
The same question, delivered with uninterested voice, while checking on your phone, would be most likely get cut-short answer or simply ignored.
Try these tips instead:
- Ask with enthusiasm of you wanting to know more about their day (and frankly you should!).
- Try to maintain eye contact if possible. If you ask while driving, try looking at him/her through your rear mirror once in a while.
- When asking at home, try to have a short uninterrupted time chatting with them. Probably you could drop whatever you’re doing just for a 10 mins chit-chat.
- Don’t.look.at.your.phone. Unless you need to answer/make a call.
- Timing is important. If right after school your child doesn’t seem to have a good mood, don’t force them to answer a lot. Let them unwind after the long day at school, and try talking again in the evening.
- First thing you saw them back at home (or at school pick up) give them a hug first. Don’t straight away nag at them about putting away the shoes, bag, etc properly.
- If you’re too caught up with errands after school, I find that just before bed time is another best chance to get them talking.
- It’s good if every child gets a one-to-once chance to talk to you alone without everybody else. This usually warmed them up, and it can make them feel safe to tell you anything.
- When they tell you a complaint or bad things, listen first until they’re finished. Don’t jump into preaching.
This video also has some very helpful tips on how to handle kids that won’t tell you much about school;
Related article on how to ask kids questions
Sometimes it’s how we talk.
By being nice, and really paying attention, they will feel that we really try to connect with them.
When they’re feeling safe around us, and feeling less of being judged, they’ll be more willing to open up.
They’ll be more willing to talk.
And they’ll be more willing to listen, and cooperate with us too.
So, ready to get your child to talk more tomorrow?
Do you have other favorite or fun/silly questions that usually WORKS with your child? Let me know in the comment below!
Questions to ask your child about school
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