When Joe comes home from work, I routinely ask him, “How was your day, Babe?” It’s intended to be a gateway question, opening the door to deeper and more detailed conversation. My husband recognizes this concept and effortlessly eases into a myriad of stories from his day.
My kiddo, on the other hand, must of missed the memo about the gateway question. When I ask him, “How was your day?,” he actually thinks it’s sufficient to answer, “good,” and leave it at that. School exacerbates this condition time’s one-jillion. He bounces into the car after a long day of learning and has nothing to say for himself. As a parent, it’s maddening and confusing and then, ultimately, it becomes depressing as we clamor to connect with our kiddos.
So, here’s what I’ve come up with parents. Three better ways to tackle the “How was your day?” conversational stalemate.
1.) Pre-empt the car conversation.
In the morning, give them an assignment. Things like:
“Be on the look out for what brings you joy today. When I pick you up, I want to hear all about the different things you’ve seen or learned or heard that made you feel super happy inside.”
“Find the funny, today, kiddo. When I pick you up, report to me all the funny things that happen through out your day.”
“Today I want you to be a secret agent of kindness. Find a few ways to be extra kind to another kid or teacher and when I pick you up, tell me about it, okay?”
“Okay, I want you to be thinking…who is the person who makes you the most happy when you see them today. Think about why they make you happy and what do you like about them? Let’s talk about it tonight.”
“When you get to school, can you think about your favorite place there? Is it at your desk or a bulletin board your teacher made, maybe the lunch room, etc. When I pick you up can you describe what it looks like and why you like it so much?”
My husband did this a few months ago. He shot me text that said, “I have an idea. Let’s take pictures of things that make us happy today. Have Miles participate. We will show our pictures and talk about them at dinner tonight.” I loved it.
2.) Make their day into a story game.
There’s two ways to do this. The first is to ask them to tell you 2 stories from their day. When you ask for stories that requires a narrative with characters and details and gives you more insight into their world other than “My day was good because I got an A on my test.”
The other way to do this is to ask them to play the story game. This means that they actually turn their day into a story. Have them to start with, “Once upon a time…”
3.) Keep a Question Jar in the car.
Another use for the ole mason jar! Pinterest be like, “Hooray!” But seriously, decorate a jar and fill it with questions that require a multiple word answer about their day. Pass the jar around when they get in the car after school or around the dinner table that night. Questions like:
What is one thing you liked learning about today and why? Can you show me it later?
What do you feel most proud of yourself for today?
Who was the kindest person you noticed today and what did they do?
What do you like most about your best friend?
When was the last time someone hurt your feelings? How did you react?
Do you know someone who is going through a hard time? How can you help them?
What is the best thing about your teacher?
What was something that made you angry today?