The one-worded responses we’re used to hearing (and saying ourselves) are typically communicating something else: an unwillingness to, or disinterest in, having a genuine conversation.
At the same time, asking a loved one how they are doing purely out of habit appears less genuine and more transactional over time, which can display just as much indifference to bonding as short answers.
Fortunately, in a parent-child relationship, you have the power to bring meaning and intention back into your daily conversations while teaching your children to do the same.
Keep in mind that a conversation starter is precisely that – a way to open up the line of communication. And if you can pick up on how your child is feeling, the way you choose to initiate a chat goes a long way. For example, a silly question in a funny voice, a sincere question with a soft touch, or a positive question with an enthusiastic tone can all be appropriate and constructive ways to dig deeper and build an understanding of your child’s state of mind.
So, if your goal is to bond with your child and be attentive to their daily experiences and feelings, here are a few ways to check in that will be a refreshing deviation from the open-ended status quo.
Ask Positive Questions to Uplift:
Teaching your child to focus on the positive will help them reframe their day and appreciate the good things happening around them.
- Who acted like a superhero today?
- Did you find out you could do something today that you couldn’t before?
- What was the most helpful thing you did for someone today?
- What made you smile or laugh really hard?
- What is something you accomplished today – or would still like to accomplish?
Ask General Questions to Gain Awareness:
Sometimes, kids keep the hardest, scariest feelings to themselves, and it’s the parents’ responsibility to provide a safe place to be honest.
- Did you have a happy day, an okay day, or a sad day… and why?
- Were you scared or uncomfortable about anything today?
- What was the hardest thing you had to do today?
- Did you have any conversations you did not like today?
- Do you feel big and strong after today, or do you feel the opposite?
Ask Sincere Questions to Build Trust & Encourage Parent-child Openness:
Showing authentic interest in a child’s day is a great way to show your availability as a support system – but it’s also important that your child understands that it is okay to be honest about their expectations or frustrations with you. The answers to the below questions may be an ideal opportunity to lovingly reinforce the decisions or actions you’ve made as a parent.
- Is there anything you’d like to ask me?
- Did I frustrate you today… and if so, how?
- When did I make you feel the most loved today?
- Is there anything you wish happened between us today that didn’t?
- What adventure are you looking forward to having together?
Ask Playful Questions to Break the Ice:
At the end of the day, your child is a kid! Keeping some of your questions free spirited and lighthearted will show that quality time through conversation does not always have to be challenging and thought-provoking. An enjoyable moment is a memorable moment!
- Who had a better day today – your eyes or your ears?
- If your teacher was secretly an animal, what do you think they would be?
- If we had to make up a funny-sounding word to say, “I love you,” what would it be?
- What do you think your feet had the most fun doing today?
- If you ate your lunch again but backward, what food would you start with?
Our child care enthusiasts at TOOTRiS believe that even the smallest moments can become special, even if it’s as simple as asking a few questions on the way home from daycare or school. In time, we hope that asking each other about your days can become a tradition you both look forward to and even plan ahead for.