How many times have you asked, your child “What did you do at school today?” and gotten the answer, “nothing”? Teenagers and Tweens don’t always expand upon their answers, so it’s up to us to teach them how to communicate effectively. Especially in today’s technologically saturated world, teens and tweens are communicating on their devices more than utilizing face-to-face language.
Here are some handy tips to encourage some conversations about school:
1 Ask Open-ended Questions-What does that mean? Don’t ask questions that can be answered with yes or no. Make sure the answers require a longer answer.
2 “I Don’t Know” and “Nothing” are Unacceptable Answers – Make sure you state this up front. These type of answers are a cop-out and teens often say it automatically. Simply, ask your question, and then explain that you would rather NOT have “I don’t know” or “nothing” as an answer. Then allow them a little time to think about it.
3 Plan Ahead– Start in the morning with one or more questions. It can be at the breakfast table, on the way to school, or before they walk out the door. Begin with “At the end of the day, I want to know …..” This will give them plenty of time to think of the answers by the end of the school day.
4 Notes in their lunchbox or backpack – What about parents who must leave early for work? Not every parent has the opportunity to spend time with their kids each morning. In this case, simply write your question(s) on a piece of paper and put it somewhere they will find it. Lunchboxes or backpacks are ideal places.
5 Ask the Right Questions – Ask questions that require specific answers. Rather than asking questions like “How was your day?”, try questions like these:
1 What type of problems did you do in math class today?
2 What did you write about in English class?
3 What did you read about in history or science today?
4 What songs did you play/sing in music?
5 What games did you play in Phys. Ed.?
When you get your answer, try expanding on the topic if you know about it. If not, you should have your teen explain the concept to you. This will keep the conversation going back and forth, helping your teen to open up more and more each day.
How do you get your teen or tween to open up to you?