Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The secret lives of school-agers

My Five year old is off to Kindergarten this year. It's a very exciting time but also strange for me as his Mother. Strange in that it feels like he now has this secret life, one in which I know very little about. From the time he gets on the bus till the minute he steps off again- he's off on his own adventure. Its a start to his own individual life, one where we as parents start learning the art of letting go.

Several parenting tips tell us to ask questions, good questions, that involve a bigger response than "yes" or "no". Talking about our days brings us closer as a family. Unfortunately the more questions I ask my young son the less he wants to tell me (even becoming very grumpy with me for attempting to ask). This got me thinking...maybe the questions only work once our kids are teenagers. Hmm, then how are we to talk to our younger children?

I decided to try a little experiment. Instead of politely interrogating him, I changed all my questions into statements. Why?! because I was still curious for information about his secret school life. At first it was hard to change the question that I was dying to ask into some form of statement, but it soon got easier with practice. Here's a few examples of a question I turned into a statement that gets my son talking about his day:

I might not know every kid in his class right now- so I use any name I can think of. This really gets him talking, cause young kids love to correct their parents.

There are days he's not ready to talk right away, so I make one or two statements about school and then leave him alone. Eventually after he's had a little time to relax, he starts sharing his day with us. It's so exciting to be able to hear how his day was.

In my experience, changing questions into statements has worked in our family. I want to believe I'm establishing a great trust with him. A trust that says "hey, you don't have to tell me every little thing that went on while we were apart, but I am here (& very ready to listen) when there's something you'd like to share!" 

How do you talk to your young children about their school days?

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