As your kids grow older, you will find that connecting with them becomes less about the physical cuddles, snuggles and reassurances and more about the time spent talking and being there for them. It’s important as your kids enter their pre-teen years to begin a pattern of asking them about their day and spending time talking about what went well, what didn’t and what they would like to do in the future.
In the beginning, your conversations may not seem to lead you anywhere. However, if you keep the lines of communication open, you will establish a pattern with your kids. One which means that they feel comfortable sharing their feelings and activities with you regularly and also one in which they know that they have a chance to talk to you each day about anything and everything.
You will over time, think of your own way to ask some of these questions. How you ask them isn’t as important as making the time to check on these 5 areas each day.
1. How was Your Day Today?
This is a simple question. You’d probably want to ask this when you see each other after school or work. It opens the door and allows them to respond to you any way they wish.
If they say “fine, nothing special” then you’ll know that nothing out of the ordinary happened. But if they’ve had a bad day, or there’s a cause for celebration, then asking this question first means that they get to share it with you straight away.
2. Was there Anything about Today which You Didn’t Like?
Kids will normally tell you about the good things that happened, but it might take a little more to figure out if anything upsetting has occurred too. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to ask if there was anything specific which didn’t go as planned.
Be open when you hear what it is your child has to share and be sympathetic. Listen and help them to sort through the feelings they might have and work with them to see what they can change tomorrow so that tomorrow will be a better day.
3. Who Did You Spend Time with Today?
Asking this question gives you a sense of who their friends are. It also lets you know if any social dynamics have changed. If your once happy and popular child tells you they spent the day alone, it might alert you to a problem. If there is a sudden change in all the names of the kids he or she has been hanging out with you, you might want to find out why that has occurred.
Another way to ask this question is to ask after a specific friend. Pick a best friend or a random name your child brings up often. Your child might actually talk a lot more about shared situations with a friend than if you ask them about how they managed a situation directly.
4. Do You Need My Help?
This is a question which every parent should ask regularly. Most of the time, your kids will probably not need anything. But once in a while, they may bring up a project or a problem or even a social issue which they need your advice on.
5. What’s Coming Up that’s Going to be Exciting?
Don’t restrict your conversations to what’s happening today or what might have happened in the past. Build in some questions about the future. Ask them if anything special is coming up. Do they need your help for anything that they are preparing for, are they excited about it, apprehensive or frustrated?
Questions like this can over time, allow you to explore the dreams, hopes and concerns your children have about the future and allow you to continue to play a role in helping them to achieve their aspirations.