The most recent question came from a mother who is eager to engage with her son at the end of the school day. I believe her question will help many parents who experience this dynamic with their children.
When my son gets home from school I am eager to connect with him and see how his day has been. This is a new school for him and I want to make sure he’s adjusting well and making friends. But when I ask him, “How was your day?” he simply says “fine” or “ok” and most times won’t even look at me.
How can I get more information out of him without being pushy?
Hello and thank you for your question. This is a dilemma many of us face at the end of each day.
Here’s what we need to keep in mind: asking “yes” or “no” questions is fine if those are the answers you’re looking for. However, if you want more engagement and connection with your son, consider asking open-ended questions.
For example, instead of asking, “How was your day?” ask “What made you laugh today?” Instead of saying, “Did you talk with anyone today?” consider asking, “Who did you play with at recess today and what game did you play?”
With the goal being connection, be sure your questions are inviting and not interrogative. As a former probation/parole officer, I leaded more towards the latter than I would like to admit. And in those moments my child would close up even more. The idea of being prodded with question after question is not a welcoming experience, nor will it solicit openness or connection.
Open-ended questions invite our children into a conversation with us in a way that closed-ended questions do not.
Everyone likes being asked about themselves and most enjoy an opportunity to share an opinion they may have. Open-ended questions communicate that you are willing to step into your child’s world and see things from their point of view, instead of requiring them to step into yours.
Try this technique and let me know how it goes with these questions instead of standard ones.
A copy of the pdf with my sample open-ended questions, “10 Things to Ask” can be downloaded free here.