Being able to talk to your kids is important at any age, and is best established when children are young, open, and impressionable. As your child goes through changes in life, like going from Primary to Secondary school, it is likely that they will have less time to spend with the family. This makes the pockets of shared time all the more important. But what can you do so that such times are maximised, and your child will not find them a waste of their time?
The most common question parents ask their children is “How was school?” How often can you ask this question before it gets boring because the answer always remains roughly the same: “Okay.” Children who really like school are rare. Most are just glad that it is over for the day and now they can do what they want to. Asking them how’s school only reminds them of the agony they’ve just endured.
Otherwise, parents would ask, “Have you done all your homework?” or “What grade did you get for your test?” The problem with such questions is that it tells the child that you are more interested in their performance than in them as a person. I trust that you agree that the purpose of asking questions is to get to know your child better. You not only what to know the “outer world” stuff, like what he had for lunch, but also the “inner world” stuff, like how he feels about certain things. A good question to ask is:
“What was the best part of your day?”
Asking him what he favourite moment of a day was tells me much about what he most values at each stage of life. By asking your child what the best part of the day was not only allows us to learn about it but also allows him to learn about it. It helps your child develop the habit of reflection and introspection. At times, he will have a ready answer, but sometimes it will take time for him to think through the events and experiences of the days before he can pick out a highlight. This is a great question for kids as well as for adults, like yourself.
This article is written by Parcsen Loke. He is a husband, father of three, and is currently the Head of Programmes and Development at the Centre for Fathering.