How to Get More than One Word Answers to Your Questions

How familiar is the following questions and responses?


You: How was your day (insert child’s name)?

Child: Good


You: What did you do at school today?

Child: Nothing


You: How was school?

Child: Boring


You: Did you have a fun today?

Child: Yup


There aren’t too many children (young or old) who like to be grilled about their day, especially if it has to with school. Trying to get a sense of how they spent their day is a good thing to do as a parent, but how a child may want to convey information about their day may be very different. Additionally, what is important to an adult may not be so important to a child. A child may be more interested in what someone was wearing, what kind of lunch time interactions they had, who was no in school, etc. Yes, your child is learning and engaging in academic things, but what is engaging to them is more of the social aspects of school.


Be Specific

If you truly want to have a conversation with your child about their day, you will have to inquire about things that are interesting to them. If you know they love music, and today in music class was the day they got to try out the brass instruments, you probably want to specifically ask that class.


“What did you think about the new instruments from music class today?”

How did you feel after the math test?


Be Random

Taking a question from David Sedaris, sometimes asking an unexpected question can make a child thing twice about how they will want to answer.


Did anything disgusting happen at school today?”

Teacher do anything embarrassing in class?

What made you laugh today?


Be Like a Friend

Chances are when your child is talking/texting/communicating with their peers, they are not discussing whether they had an above average day at school, or whether then liked learning new things. Chances are they are talking about the most recent episode of their favorite show, talking about their new hobby, shared interests, etc. In asking questions that your child will want to engage in, you get glimpse of what their social life at school is like. If you know your child is into Lego, or playing Minecraft, or listening to Beyonce, you’ll want to inquire if they are able to share their interests with others. While bullying is a concern for many, knowing whether you child has a good friends, or is socializing in between the academic moments, are positive ways to keep tabs about bullying or any drama related to relationships.


Did anyone else watch Boxtrolls this past weekend?

What were you talking about recess/lunch?

Did so and so move up in their ranking in League of Legends?”


In communicating with others, if we’re not getting the answers that we want, the onus is on the one seeking information to do a better job of soliciting information, instead of demanding that someone give you more information. If you’re looking to learn more about your child’s life or life at school try being specific, random, or talk to them like their friend would talk to them.




*photo credit: futurebehaviour

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