“How was your day?”
“I don’t remember.”
If that conversation sounds familiar, I bet you’re a parent with school aged children. We get thousands of parents through our doors each week at The Little Gym, and it’s a familiar tale!
Our children come out of school, and we’re desperate to hear about their day. What did they do? Who did they play with? Did anything exciting happen? Tell me… just please tell me … I NEED TO KNOW!
Some children bounce out of school and they’re a waterfall of gossip, experiences, struggles and fun. But many seem to remember nothing at the end of the day, and all parents get is ‘I don’t remember’, ‘Nothing’, or the dreaded ‘Fine’.
We sometimes forget that their little brains are busy processing hundreds, if not thousands, of new experiences every day. And that can take a lot of energy, making them tired and hungry at the exact time we want to hear about their day.
It can also lead to pent-up energy, and they can need some space to get that out of their systems too – we get a lot of parents ask us to help with that challenge at The Little Gym!
So how do we open the channel of communication in a way that encourages our little ones to share, without pressuring them with our thirst for information?
Here are seven simple tricks from The Little Gym Windsor that might help you get some fabulous school stories out of your little one this month:
Greet them with the biggest smile you can muster. Let them know that you’re over the moon to see them. Greet them with a big smile. Give them an enormous hug. Swing them around if they’re little. Try doing this before you ask about their day.
Keep questions small. Questions like “How was your day?” are too broad – you’ll just get “Fine”. Cue frustrated parent and un-engaged child. Narrow your questions, and make them specific. “What made you laugh today?” “What games did you play?”
Give them time to unwind. They’ve had a busy day. Listening to teachers. Running around. Making their brain work in ways it may never have before. It takes a lot of energy! Give them food, and let them process the day, unwind, and recoup their energy.
Tell them a funny story. Did something funny happen to you today? Did toilet paper get stuck to your shoe? Did someone sneeze like an elephant on the train? Tell them! Making children laugh is a great way to open a line of communication.
Learn about your child’s life at school. If you know they’re doing PE on Wednesday, or their teacher reads stories each Thursday, you’ll have an instant connection with their day. “What story did Mrs Feeney read, was it about aliens?” “Noooo… silly…. It was about a kangaroo!”
Listen. Give your little one space to talk at their own pace, and in their own way. Try not to jump in – as strong as the urge sometimes is. Let the talk emerge and flow naturally. They will want to talk more!
Make special time. If you can sit down and snuggle, they’ll love the intimacy and often be more inclined to share. This could be a special 10 minutes after they’ve had a snack, or it could be just after bath time. Whatever time works for your family. But if you can find that 10 minutes, there the magic might lie to learning all about their day, laughs, likes, and worries.