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How to Keep Lines of Communication Open with Children

This week's Parent Talk topic.

Each week, our council of experts and smart parents take your questions, give advice and share solutions in this parenting column. This feature will also be the place to drop in for a talk about the latest parenting hot topic.

So grab a cup of coffee and settle in as we start the conversation today with a topic and question:

The question: "How was your day at school?"

The answer: "Fine."

This scene is fairly common when kids come home from school. How do you elicit a better answer to that question from children? Or do you ask other questions that get conversation going about how your child's day was? How do you keep the lines of verbal communication open in your household?

Please comment in the box below, and check Norton Patch every Wednesday at 1 p.m. for this segment.

Tom Golota September 21, 2011 at 06:40 PM
I have always asked "How was your day"? Many times the answer is a short "Good". Then I follow it up with "What did you do today"? Sometimes they need to unwind before they give you the full answer to that question and other times it comes out right away. The biggest key is to listen when they do tell you about their day and ask further probing questions. This lets them know that you are interested and WANT to hear what they have to say. If something went wrong at school (something as simple as they ran out of Popsicles, or more complicated like "so-and-so said something mean") they will tell us. Sometimes they don't want to talk about it when they first get home and then will tell my wife everything when she gets home later. We almost always have dinner together as a family. Often we start the conversation with "What was the best part of your day"? This is an open ended question and can usually spark more conversation. I feel that we have a very open dialogue with both of our children. Somethings they will tell me and other things they tell my wife. We communicate those things with each other so when the topic comes up some other time we are in tune with what is happening.
Annemarie Holloway September 21, 2011 at 07:15 PM
Great advice Tom! That is exactly what we do in our house as well ! We make a huge effort to make sure we have dinner together each night.. We are glad we started these habits when they were little...
Annemarie Holloway September 21, 2011 at 07:16 PM
PS: In addition to asking about the best part of their day.. they each get a turn to answer, "what was the worst part of your day?"...

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