Getting Beyond 'Good': Tips for Talking to Kids About Their Day

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Your children are back in school, andyouwant to hear all about it. "What is your teacher like?" "Have you made any new friends?"

You're eager to hear every detail, but your kids are a bit less eager to share.

If you've ever tried to start a conversation with your kids by asking "How was your day?" and received frustratingly short replies like "fine" or "good," you're not alone. Many children have difficulty summarizing an entire day's worth of activities and, at the beginning of the school year, they may still be processing all that is new.

But there are things you can do to encourage your child to open up:

Using a mix of specific questions and statementssuch as "Was recess fun today? Tell me about the game you played" or "This is a beautiful drawing. How did you make the tree look so real?" can help kids focus on a specific aspect of their day and may get a discussion started.

Talking aboutyourdaywill make a conversation interactive. It is important to model the type of communication you are trying to establish with your kids by sharing your interests, friends, challenges and joys ("I worked on a really tough project at work today."). Reciprocity is key for discussions, even with young kids.

Listeningwithout criticizing encourages kids to share their experiences. Remember that tone of voice and pointed questions ("Why didn't you just speak up?") can be perceived as judgmental and may make kids clam up. Instead, you might encourage your child to figure out solutions by asking, "What do you think you want to do about this?" or "Is there something you'd like me to do?"

Letting your kids decide when to talk about their day may inspire longer discussions. As parents, we often want to have the conversation as soon as kids get home from school, which may not work for your child. During dinnertime, when the family is gathered, or at bedtime, when many children vie for that extra 10 minutes of awake time, may be good alternatives.

The start of the school year is a bustling time! Be patient and keep talking - eventually your kids will join in.

-Sylvia Barsotti is the Editor of Parenting Content at Highlights for Children. For more thoughts on parenting from Highlights, please visit