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How was school? Fine.

Getting your child to open up about schoolGetting your child to open up about school

It’s a script every parent could recite by heart. You ask your child how school was and are met with a less than enthusiastic “fine.” Just as quickly as the conversation started, it’s already over.

You’re excited to hear about his day and want him to open up but you just can’t seem to get your child to talk. So, what do you do? How do you get your child to open up about the school day?

Here are 4 tips to keep in mind the next time you want your child to share about her day.

Timing is everything
Sometimes, it’s not that your child doesn’t want to tell you about his day, he just doesn’t want to tell you right now. Asking your child how his school day was as soon as he gets into the car or walks through the door aren’t prime times for him to open up to you. Children with complex learning needs exert a lot of energy at school. They work hard to pay attention, demonstrate self-control, and be active learners. That can take a lot out of you! Kids need a chance to relax and decompress before they dive into specifics about their day. Encourage her to play outside or relax with a snack or play with the family dog. Once, he’s had some time to unwind, he’ll be more prepared to engage in a conversation.

Ask the right questions
It may seem like a simple solution but if you want a better answer, ask better questions. Don’t ask an open-ended question like, “How was school today?” Ask what she’s learning about this week in science or what was the best thing that happened to her today. Ask who made her laugh today. Did he meet anyone new? What game did she play at recess? Ask questions that your child will have to think about instead of giving an auto-reply. These questions also make it easier to ask follow up questions and before you know it, your child is actually sharing about his day!

Lead by example
If you wish your child would share more, the best thing you can do is lead by example! Before you dive into asking him about his day, share about yours. What was something that challenged you at work? What did you do today that you’re proud of? Did something funny happen that your child might enjoy hearing about? Show your child how to share the good and the bad. If sharing becomes a family tradition at the dinner table or on the way home from soccer practice, it’s less likely to be met with resistance by your child. You can’t expect your child to give endless details about their day if you don’t set the tone and give some about your day too.

Be present
Just as important as a willingness to share yourself, it’s also crucial that you show that you want to hear about her day. Children are perceptive. If you ask the question but it’s clear your attention isn’t on him, it’s easy for your child to give you that one-word answer. While it’s often hard to shake off the stress of your day, it’s important for you to demonstrate that she has your full attention. Put down your phone, close your computer, ask follow up questions, and demonstrate that you are actively listening and interested. When he feels that you’re valuing his answers and are truly present, he may feel more comfortable sharing.

Getting your child to open up instead of clamming up is not the easiest task. Being involved and informed about your child’s day is important to every parent and with some patience and a new approach, you can encourage your Complex Learner to share the highs and lows of every school day! Do you have any special ways to get the conversation rolling?

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