“What did you learn?”
It’s a natural question to ask. But to start real conversations with your teen, you are going to have to dig a little deeper! Here are 3 alternatives to the ‘How was school?’ standby we are all so good at asking.
1. What happened at school today?
It’s a small variation. I know. But it is different enough to illicit answers about a grade that was received, an assembly that was had, or a fight that occurred on the school yard. “How was school,” asks about how your child felt today. But “What happened…” opens up an entirely different conversation. The answer might not even be as exciting as a school yard brawl, but a more thorough report of the days events will give you an opportunity to ask deeper questions about the time your child spent away from you.
2. What kids did you spend time with today?
Do you know who your children spend their time with? When my daughter was in school, I was sometimes amazed at a name that would pop up out of the blue – a girl I’d never heard of that has suddenly invited my child for a playdate. These days, it’s more of a, ‘We’re going to hang out situation.” Friends, especially in the teen years, come and go quickly and keeping up with the people who influence our children is an important task.
3. What’s going on in Science class?
Obviously you can insert any other class here – it’s not limited to science! Asking the specifics of a class shows that you are interested in the details of what your child is learning. Plus, you’ll learn a few things you didn’t know before too! Like, how your child feels about their teacher, how they are enjoying the subject material, and if they even know what’s going on in the classroom. You’ll also probably get a feel for what they think about the kids who sit near them, and maybe get a glimpse into future successes or problems that are heading your way with a certain subject.
Opening up dialogue with our kids can seem tough, especially when talking to us seems like the last thing they want to do. But we are still the #1 influence in our kids lives. Asking varied questions shows them care and concern, and let’s them know they can be heard around us! When they start talking, listen intently! Look them in the face. Put down the smart phone. Be present. Look for ways to keep the channel of communication open to them.
In the teen years, communication really matters! Having good conversations each day will help our kids remember that we listen to them, and care about the details of their days. I’m all about increasing the likelihood of my daughter coming to me with questions and issues as she becomes a young woman, and I know that setting a foundation of respectful dialogue is pivotal in keeping the dialogue flowing in the years ahead.