"How was your day today?" you ask your 10-year-old as he jumps into the car after school. "Fine", he says. What would your response be to this typical response you get from your son? How would you continue the conversation if he just brutally cut the conversation short...? My guess is you won't be quite sure how to continue the conversation after he has cut it short! Read below for some tips on how to foster effective communication between you and your child.
Effective communication means to communicate with a certain goal in mind. In the case of the example above, your goal might have been to learn more about your child's day at school and to connect with them. Unfortunately the chances of you reaching either of these two goals in the example above, are most likely close to zero.
Consider some of the following questions to enhance your communication with your child when you want to learn more about their school day:
•What was the most exciting thing that happened today?
•If you could replay one part of today, what part would it be?
•What do you know today that you didn’t know yesterday?
•What was the most challenging part of your day?
•How would you rate your day on a scale of 1-10? Why?
•How did you make yourself proud today?
•Did something make you feel worried today?
•Teach me something you learned today.
The act of choosing the kinds of questions you ask your child about their day at school, for example, can have a major impact on the quality of the conversation you will have with them.
Effective communication between parent and child also means that you remain
in-tune with your child:
-Are they really tired and overstimulated after a long day at school and will your questions add to their overwhelm?
-Could it be better to ask them about their day later when they feel more regulated?
-Do you openly talk about some of your (when appropriate) and your child's more challenging emotions? How do you create a safe space in which you can have these kinds of conversations?
-Do you acknowledge all of your child's feelings, if they seem mundane or irrelevant to you?
Effective communication can bring about clear lines of communication in which you know how and when to speak to your child about certain topics. Challenge yourself to start asking your child three of the suggested questions above and see what a difference it could make to the quality of your conversation!