As the first day of school quickly approaches, parents are asking me how to get their kids to talk to them more about school. We parents want information! We feel that in exchange for our nurturance and worry and everything we did to get them ready for school, we should at least get to know what's happening there!
So how can you get more than a "fine" out of your kids when you ask them "How was school?" Drawing on techniques from some of the most brilliant people I know -- parenting expert Amy McCready, child and adolescent psychologist Shefali Tsabary, and Harvard-trained life coach Martha Beck -- I've pieced together the following plan.
Set aside 10 minutes a day for "special time."
What (or whether) kids choose to share with us has a lot to do with their personality, of course. But a factor that is more within our control is our connection with them -- specifically, how much they trust us with their innermost thoughts and feelings.
We can lay a foundation of trust and connection using what my kids call "special time." Every day for at least 10 minutes, I try to do something with each of my kids that they choose: We play a game, read together on the couch, walk the dog.
This may sound easy, but for me, it's not; in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, 10 or 20 minutes per kid can be hard to find. That may seem ridiculous to you -- I spend longer doing things that are much less important everyday -- but between homework and dinnertime and bedtime, adding a whole other activity can seem daunting.