Beyond “Fine:” Talking About Your Child’s School Day

Parents often tell us that they would like to talk with their children/teens more about their daily lives but find it hard. When they ask questions about their school day, they often get 1-3-word responses. Their children do not always ask questions back, so the conversations tend to be short or one-sided. Many parents tell us that when they have tried to talk to other parents about this, the other parents say they have no problems talking with their children. Many times, they become boastful about having great conversations with their children, leaving the parents we talk to feeling isolated in their struggle.

Although this may be true, in our experience, this challenge is not uncommon. While there can be many reasons, one I notice (and posted about here), is kids are asked questions that can be responded to with 1-2 words. Specifically, many of us hold our children to a double-standard. We want to hear a monologue response to “How was your day?” However, our kids/teens often see us respond to our friends with 1-3 words, when asked the same question (“Fine, thanks”).

If we want different results, then we need to try something different. Knowing this is easier said than done, here are a couple tools that may be helpful.

Strategy for Questions

  1. Think of a question that you want to ask your child/teen.
  2. Ask yourself the question/conversation starter and see if you can respond with a “yes” or “no.” If so, try to reword or think of another question.
  3. Struggling to reword? Try starting your question or statement with “What,” “How,” or “Tell me about…”

Ready To Go Questions About Their School Day

Since coming up with questions can also be hard for some parents, here are 20 conversation starters that you can use to talk with your child/teen about their day.

  1. What was your favorite class or activity today?
  2. Tell me about something fun or funny that happened today.
  3. Tell me about something that irritated you today.
  4. Tell me about something that you did well today.
  5. Tell me about a time you were helped by someone today.
  6. Tell me or show me one thing you learned today?
  7. Tell me one thing that confused or challenged you today.
  8. Tell me about a time you explained something to, taught, or helped someone today.
  9. Tell me about a time that you smiled today?
  10. Tell me about a time you made someone laugh today?
  11. What did you do during break/lunch today?
  12. Who did you hang out or talk with the most today?
  13. Tell me about two times you used your pencil/pen today?
  14. Tell me about two things you read today.
  15. Tell me about something kind/helpful you noticed someone else do today.
  16. Tell me something interesting you saw on social media today?
  17. Tell me something crazy that you saw on social media today?
  18. If your day had a theme song, what would it be?
  19. If your day a movie/tv show/or book title (real or made-up), what would it be?
  20. Tell me about something you did today that you felt was a waste of your time.

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