I’m scrolling through the adorable back-to-school pics of the kids I know and love, and here’s what my friend just posted:
“I was eager to get home today so I could find out how Liam’s first day of school went, and this boy is giving momma NOTHING! Does he understand how heartbroken I was dropping him off today? Would it kill him to open up and give mommy a glimpse into his special day?”
Children are notorious for clamming up just when we want to hear about their important occasions. Here are a few tips for avoiding crickets on the drive home from school.
- Curb your enthusiasm to hear your child talk. When you’re too eager they get performance anxiety. They get the sense you are looking for something monumental and they’re not sure they can produce.
- Ask questions that can be easily answered with one word: What color is your teacher’s hair? Did you sit next to a boy or a girl? Or in the case of older kids: Did they still have that painted rock out front? Did you see anybody from last year?
- Don’t pepper your child with too many questions. They’re smart enough to sniff out an interrogation.
- Remember that your child is likely tired when they come home from school. Pace your conversation, and save a little of your own curiosity for dinner or bedtime.
- Match their tone and energy. If they are excited about music class, don’t transition to asking if they have homework. If they are worried, don’t ask if anyone liked their shoes.
- Avoid having poorly planned confrontations about their performance in school. These conversations should be well thought out and put off until your child can best handle them. Save the car ride and the dinner table for the positive stuff.
- Keep your conversations short. One rule of thumb for boys, particularly teens, is keep it under 17 seconds. Don’t measure quality by quantity.
- Expect your child to be distracted. From toddlers to teens, children converse best while they are fidgety or playful. Get comfortable with conversations over the sound of a bouncing ball.
- Expect children to weave in and out of conversation, and through and around topics. It’s normal. They are not developmentally ready to summarize their day. You can gather the snippets and make your own summary.
- Build off their topics of interest. If all they want to talk about is the phone their new friend got, then listen and ask a few questions about what makes it cool.
- Be interruptible. Because the moment when your child is finally ready to talk is likely to come just as you’re unloading groceries or going to bed. If your non-talker suddenly gets chatty, have the good sense to honor the gift they just gave you.