Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Ten Best Kid Conversation Starters

I'm sure you have asked you kids, "What did you do at school today?" 

And the answer you got? "Nothing."

It's frustrating. You love your kids and you don't want to pry, but you want to know what is going on in their lives--achievements to cheer with them for, disappointments to hug them over, people who are influencing them, topics they are interested in, activities they are good at, what tickles their funny bone, or a topic you'd like to have input on. So, yeah, maybe you do want to pry, but not really, you just want to be involved.

So how do you get your kids to open up?

Don't start an interrogation. It is so tempting to quiz them down about their day. But that might seem like an accusation. Give them time. Maybe just listen to music they like on the ride home. If you have several kids in the car, listen carefully. It's hard to resist the temptation to chime in, but if you do you will learn a lot and it might even seem like they have forgotten you are there. 

Engage fully. When your kids are talking, put down your phone, book, calendar, or whatever is preventing you from giving them your full attention. Listen to what they say. "We started reading a new book today." Then respond with a full sentence that shows you are listening and interested. "Does it seem like it's going to be a really good book?" "What is it about?"

Model sharing about your day. "I talked to Grandma and Grandpa today. They said they got a sandbox for when we visit this summer." Let them overhear you talking with your spouse, "Guess what I learned today at the library!" When they hear that talking about one's day is interesting to others, they will want to share, too.

Don't overreact! My face gives me away every time! Then they say, "It's okay, Mom!" A gasp, an upset expression, a minced oath, a fearful question can make a child not want to share. They don't want you to be upset, and possibly not even over excited. Practice keeping a poker face and saying, "Mmhmm," to give you time to come up with a gentle reaction.

Pick the right time.  If your child comes home tired, hungry, or overwhelmed that is not the best time to start asking questions. So when is?

  • Car rides--If you have errands to run take one along, especially if they are old enough to sit in the front seat with you. Don't have earbuds in anyone's ears, just start talking about what you see and let them comment, too. I always talk to my 2 year old granddaughter about everything we go past in the car. One day a few months ago I was quiet and she started chattering. I asked if she wanted music, "No!" Did she want me to talk? "Yes!"
  • Play time--Take time to play with your kids and read to them. Whether it is cars, hide and seek, or Candyland, that time you are with them lets them know you are there and provides opportunities for memory jogging ideas to pop into their heads.
  • Chore time--There is something about working side by side that gets people to open up. They don't have to look each other in the eye so they can say things they might not say when looking straight at you. This is why doing dishes together is such a great idea! (Not necessarily a fun idea, but a great one!)
  • Dinner time--If you sit down together to eat you can all tell each other about your day. Not everyday will be a great conversation day--in fact, it can seem like this is a horrible idea that should not be repeated until they are adults. But that is too late. Let them talk to each other and you talk to them. Try hard to keep things upbeat. This is a great time to have a conversation starter to two ready to go!
  • Bedtime--If your children are still young enough that you are putting them to bed, they might realize that opening up will get them an extra ten minutes before they have to turn out the light. Be open to that. We had some of our most important conversations with our children right before bed. 
Ask a good question. Here are ten Mom-tested questions that have worked for other women to get the conversation going. Try using one or two of them at an appropriate moment each day. You might find one that becomes a family favorite, too.
  1. What made you laugh today?
  2. Did anything make you sad today?
  3. What was something silly that happened at school today?
  4. Did you give or receive any compliments today?
  5. Who did you hang out with?
  6. What did you do well today?
  7. Who did you thank today?
  8. What new thing did you learn today?
  9. How did you help someone feel included today?
  10. What did you hear that you disagreed with?
I would love to know what questions you use to get your kids talking about their day!

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This week's hack comes from my friend Mariah: Making dinner time easier? In my house this means planning a menu for the week ahead of time and also using the crockpot to be able to start it in the morning. Oh and the earlier we eat- the happier we are. We can tend to be a hangry bunch (especially me!) 

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  1. Oh my goodness, these are wonderful. Would have loved to use these when my kiddos were little. I will have to use them on my grandchildren. What a great option to get away from the standard "nothing" answer.

    1. I wish I'd had more of them when my kids were at home, too!

  2. Great suggestions! I have found that car rides and bedtime are the best times for our family! Communication is SO important! 💕

  3. What great ideas! One thing I always insisted on when my children were growing up was that we always ate dinner as a family. Lots of great conversations happened around our dinner table. Special memories indeed!

    1. Yes, I love family mealtimes. Every Sunday we have 4 generations together!

  4. Fab ideas! We ask our kids every night what their favorite part of the day was for them and that can often get them telling all sorts of stories!

    1. That's great! Some kids naturally tell things, some need some creative prompting!

  5. This is so Deuteronomy 6, and I love the way doing life with our kids opens up the conversation!

    1. Thanks, Michele. Deuteronomy 6 was one of my goals when my kids were at home. Must keep it up with others in my life, too.



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