We Need to Talk…
Wow, does that statement make your stomach lurch or is it just me? While it may seem like nothing good can come out of a conversation that starts with that dreaded phrase, we DO need to talk…with our kids! School is back in session, which means our children are out of the house and away from our watchful eyes. They are having all kinds of new experiences (both good and bad), they’re meeting new people, and learning a variety of new things. I don’t know about you, but I want to hear about every little detail. The hard (seemingly impossible) part is to get them talking!
Now before you get exasperated, please know that I am in the same boat. Sometimes, my children will barely string together three words for me. (Wait, how many words is ‘I need a snack’? OK, so four words then.) But I’ve been diligently working on this, and I have some suggestions for how to help get them talking.
- Ask unique questions. If I ask my kids, “How was school?” or “What did you learn today?” you’d better believe there will be crickets. If I’m lucky, I’ll get an, “I don’t remember.” (This from the child who remembers the lollipop I promised but failed to give her after a trip to the doctor in 2015.) So I’ve had to up my question-asking game. Try some of these and see if you get a better response or at least a smile:
- What was the best game you played on the playground today?
- Who brought in the best lunch and what was it?
- Was anyone alone at recess today (or ate lunch alone) and what can you do about it tomorrow?
- If the class got to choose a class pet, what do you think it would be and why?
- What did you learn today that we can Google tonight and learn more about?
- Did anyone get in trouble today? Just to be clear, I’m not celebrating misbehavior, but I can tell you that my child takes rules very seriously, and if someone is breaking them, she will definitely have something to say about it. Plus, this opens the door for us to have further conversations about right and wrong, and allows me to reinforce appropriate behavior. Also to note, I have another child who is probably the one getting into trouble, so there’s that.
The Island Prep teachers also post a weekly newsletter in addition to communicating through the Bloomz or Dojo apps. These newsletters detail what the students are focusing on that week, and will even provide some questions for you to ask that are relevant to the week’s topics.
2. Asking better questions is a great place to start, but time and place are important factors as well. You want to facilitate uninterrupted time that will encourage open lines of communication. Think about what works for you and your family. In our house, we do family dinner. With few exceptions, our whole family sits down and eats dinner together every night. In your family, maybe breakfast would work better, or stopping off for a smoothie after school. We all spend a lot of time in the car these days, so you could take that opportunity to turn down the radio and ask some meaningful questions. Throw a ball around outside or do sidewalk chalk together when you get home. Just as long as you’re together and talking.
3. Lastly, and maybe most importantly… turn off the devices. This is a hard one, believe me I know. And when I say turn off the devices, I mean turn off the devices for us moms and dads as well as the kiddos. When I have my phone out, my kids immediately know that my attention is elsewhere, so they can avoid me or misbehave. Plus they’re learning and mimicking my exact behavior at an alarming rate, and that isn’t the honest, open, available atmosphere I want to foster in my home. Yes, devices will always have a place in this day and age, I’m not completely naive, but again, it’s time and place. I can save my insta-scrolling for after they are in bed, or before they wake up. But if I want my children to talk to me, it is that much easier if they know they have my full attention.
Hopefully this gave you a few pointers for opening up those tricky lines of communication! I’m sure you already have some awesome questions you ask, or tips and techniques that work well for you. Please share! Visit us on social @islandprep and share!
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