Effective Ways to Create a Conversation With Your Child

A Better You Blog, Effective Ways to Create a Conversation With Your Child

Often, I hear parents say their kids never talk to them. I recently had a dad tell me about his stepson never saying anything more than “Good,” “Fine,” or “Okay” regarding how school was that day. Because this happened so often, it was beginning to annoy him enough to the point where he stopped asking.

I suggested that if he asked the same question and continually got the same answer, it was time to recognize the strategy is broken not his stepson. Dad needed different questions to ask. I went over some things with him that would be effective ways to create a conversation. I’ll share them with you.

Instead of “How was your day?”, try…

  • What made today a good day?
  • What thing do you know now that you didn’t know yesterday?
  • What rule was difficult to follow today?
  • Tell me something nice you did for someone else. How did you feel about that?
  • What did you read today?
  • What was the best part of today?
  • What are you looking forward to tomorrow?
  • What made you smile today?
  • If you had $1,000, what would you do with it?
  • Where do you sit on the bus?
  • Who sits next to you?
  • What/Who annoyed you today?
  • What nice thing did someone do for you today?
  • What nice thing did you do for someone today?
  • What random act of kindness will you do tomorrow for someone?

These are just a few examples.

Because it’s new, you might get pushed back. No big deal. I strongly encourage parents to facilitate this new shift by sharing something about their day. You can use any of the questions above with, “Guess what happened to me today?”. Going about it this way creates an opportunity for you then to ask, “What about you?”.

Be patient. This new way may take time. Remember the most important part here – you’re modeling. Oftentimes, parents start doing this model from scratch.

Kids really do have a lot to say if they feel their audience is interested. Make good eye contact. Good inflections matter too. Don’t be a bump on the log. Make it fun. Ask about how whatever they shared made them feel. If something more serious is mentioned give your child support and validate their feelings.

Your kids will also share more if they don’t feel judged. Avoid saying, “Why did you do that?”. Instead keep the conversation going by asking questions starting with who, what, when, where, and how.

Lastly, keep in mind, you’re looking to facilitate conversation not interrogate them. If they feel you’re judging or interrogating them, they’ll shut down.

Remember, model conversation-starting by saying, “Guess what happened to me today?”. Get excited. Make it fun. Ask questions. Be curious. Validate feelings and provide support.