It is easy to rush from one thing to the next, causing us to miss out on opportunities to connect with our children.
Sometimes we are so busy that we forget the importance of casual conversations with our kids or as parents we stick to very basic questions, such as: “What did you do at school today?” “Do you have homework?” or “How was work?”
These repetitive questions can often leave kids and parents frustrated as both parties often receive one-word answers which don’t truly convey any meaningful interaction.
It’s important that we ask our children open ended questions that leave plenty of room for them to answer and elaborate. Change your questions up and make them fun and interactive. One of my favourite questions to ask my children is: “Who made you laugh today?”
It is often followed with a funny story that we both can enjoy. I’ve even asked: “What teacher gave the best lesson?” The answer is typically shared, and I gain insight into what my child was learning that day.
The dinner table or the car are great spots to have these conversations. I find that my youngest child stays at the table longer and has better table manners when he is engaged in the conversation. I find having car conversations is a great tactic when it comes to more challenging subjects like girlfriends, cell phone use or school grades. That way, we don’t have to look at each other during the conversation but are still ‘trapped’ in a vehicle with little distractions or ways to avoid the topic!
Asking our children questions is a fundamental way to teach and help them grow their communication skills. Intentional conversations encourage our kids to share their daily triumphs and challenges with us and show our children that we are listening to them and are genuinely interested in what they have to say.
Suzanne Cochrane is a financial and family literacy co-ordinator with the Cariboo-Chilcotin Partners for Literacy.