By Agnès Dupin, RSW, MSW
If you feel that getting your children to talk about their day at daycare or school is close to impossible, or you only get the no, yes, nothing or I don’t remember, you are not alone.
Here are some tips on helping develop communication skills and positively engage your children:
- Think about the timing: does your child need first to unwind, relax and/or eat before you engage them into a conversation?
- Think about the environment: Make sure electronic, TV or screen are not interfering
- Modeling appropriate communication skills by telling about your own day: don’t be inquisitive but instead provide a model for your children by describing your day. Think about what you are looking for as an answer from your child and their age. The younger the child, the more you have to be descriptive: “after saying buy to you at day care, I took the street car to the office, the driver was so funny (he was pretending to be a tour guide). At the office I finished my big project, then I had lunch with Michelle and Allison.” You can choose to discuss what you had for lunch and go on to describe your day until you pickup your child. Then, you can turn to your child and ask them about their day.
- Play games: It is all about having fun together!
- You can play the High, low, high game which is as follow – every member has to tell something high/positives about their day, then something difficult/low that happened and to finish on a positive note, something high again. The low might be a great opportunity for learning: example, to ask for help and/or discuss conflict resolution strategies.
- How am I feeling now/today? This game is perfect to help young children to learn about different emotion and connect then to their present state. As a parent, it can help you become more aware of your state of mind after a day at work or time spent commuting for example. If you are exhausted or have a headache let your child know you might be a little cranky and what you can do or need to do to feel better. Your child will learn to recognize their own emotion and what to do about it.
- Take time to play with your child and follow their lead. Remember that their game is a window to their world.
- Dinnertime: If you have the possibility of having family dinnertime at the table (no screen), this is the perfect time to discuss about day’s events.
- Invite your child’s friends over: it is incredible what we can learn from other children.
- Give it a try and repeat: children learn best by repeating. That’s how we learn to master skills, and communication is no different.
- Remember to use open-ended questions, don’t be inquisitive and be ready to listen without interrupting your child and look interested in what they are sharing.