What did you do in school today? Nothing.

How many times have you asked your kids what they did at school and their response is lackluster? More specifically, they say “nothing.” We’ve all been there, and as frustrating as it might be for parents it’s not necessarily anyone’s fault. Perhaps “nothing” means your kids read a new book or made a new friend at lunchtime. We know they did something, so the only way you’ll really find out is with a little extra tenderness.

Try these tactics the next time you want the 411 on your kids’ day:

  • Put some thought into the questions you ask. “The best way to get your kids to open up is to use open ended questions,” says Richard Peterson, vice president of education at Kiddie Academy. “Open-ended questions often begin with: why, what, who and how.” Since younger kids don’t really have a concept of time, you can ask specific details that will help narrow down the day. “Will you sing me a song that you learned at school today?” “Did you play any math games?” Don’t forget to add in a mix of fun questions, like who they sat with at lunch or what they liked most about playtime.
  • Revisit later. Sure, wanting to ask your kid’s how their day went as soon as you pick them up seems like a natural reaction. But oftentimes your tykes just want to go home and relax first. And that’s okay! Try waiting it out until they’ve had an afternoon snack or when everyone is settled at the dinner table.
  • Give your children some time to reflect. As with revisiting questions about their day, you might find that giving your kids time to reflectwilloften lead to insightful answers.Letting kids process their day before answering questions will make for a more relaxed atmosphere for everyone.

So the next time your children reply with “nothing,” don’t give up just yet! They want you to know how their day went just as much as you do!

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