One of the most exciting things about our kids starting a new school year is hearing all about it. But, in fact, that rarely happens. Kids are notorious for giving one-word answers or clamming up when we ask about their days. It can be heartbreaking to parents who want open lines of communication and are eager to hear the details of their kids’ day.

Kids’ minds work differently than adults; developmentally, they’re just not ready to recall all the details of their day after school. Unfortunately, this is often the time that we see meltdowns happening or our chatty kiddos shutting down. But don’t worry, this is normal. While we may think we need to embrace what happens at school, stays at school but not all hope is lost. Here are a few tips to help your kids open up about their school day.

1) Don’t bombard them with questions.  

Developmentally they’re not ready to summarize their day. Younger kids especially need to decompress from their overwhelming days. Allow them plenty of time to zone out after school; it’s a tough transition for their brains to make. We must honor that.  Plus, nobody likes to talk if we feel we’re being interrogated.

2) Don’t ask questions that can quickly be answered with “good” or “fine.” 

One-word questions are fine, but keep it detailed. For example, What’s your teacher’s name? Who do you sit next to?

3) Don’t ask right away. 

Let them get home, settle in, relax and decompress from their busy day. Give them a snack. Then ask a few questions later in the evening, like at dinner or bedtime.

4) Always keep the dinner time conversation a positive one.

Save conversations about problems with friends or grades for other times. Keep the dinner table conversations positive, so they continue to want to talk during those times.

5) Let them fidget! 

Sometimes it’s easier for kids to talk while they’re distracted. Toss a tennis ball back and forth across the kitchen, and you may be surprised with how much they tell you while fidgeting or distracted.

6) Allow yourself to welcome being interrupted. 

Sometimes kids feel ready to talk when you’re busy sorting laundry or cooking dinner. Make yourself able to listen, the ball is in their court, and you need to listen when they’re ready to talk – the opportunity may not arise again.

7) Don’t expect a long conversation

Especially if you have teen boys; they don’t like to talk for too long, so any 20-second discussion should be considered a win!

Having meltdowns after school? Check this out for tips.


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