Encouraging Your Child to Open Up About School
If you’re a parent, you’ve probably experienced that irritating conversation with your child where you eagerly ask them about their school day and all they can say is “it was fine” or “I can’t remember”. Try not to be too hard on them though – when they have been at school for hours it’s unlikely that they’ll want to come home and immediately start talking about it. There are plenty of ways you can encourage your child to naturally open up about school, you just have to be a bit patient with them. Read on for some tips from a sixth form in London.
Aim to ask your child open-ended questions that require more than a one-word answer. Ambiguous questions like “How was school today?” are not the best because they don’t encourage your child to consider the little details of the day and they will just reply with something generic, such as “it was fine/good/okay”. Alternatively, you should ask things like “How did you spend your lunch break today?” or “What did you learn about in Science?” What’s more, you could also use their homework assignments as a conversation starter.
The more clued up you are about your child’s timetable and the overall curriculum, the easier it will be to discuss their day. For instance, if you know that they had a History lesson, you can ask them what they learnt about. Tell them that you find that particular topic really interesting and would love to know more so that they feel enthusiastic about teaching you what they’ve discovered in class.
Open Up To Them
Children learn much of their behaviour by observing their parents and other people close to them. With that in mind, if you want them to behave in a certain way, you should try and model that behaviour yourself. To elaborate, if you want your child to be more open when it comes to talking about themselves and their experiences, you should do the same. Let them know about the great meeting you had in the morning and the new friend you made in the afternoon. Talk to them about what you did during your lunch break and how you’re finding the new project that your boss has asked you to complete. Essentially, the idea is to show your child how normal it is to share your thoughts and feelings with others and talk about what’s going on in your life.
Your child will eventually feel comfortable with the prospect of opening up to you about their school day and when they do, it’s crucial that you do not interrupt them or shrug them off. Let them chatter away and be sure to show that you’re listening by asking follow-up questions or offering your opinion. If they feel that you’re not interested or don’t have time to chat, they won’t feel confident opening up again going forward.
If you’re looking for more tips on teenagers, check out my family section.