How do you get more than one word answers from your kids? How do you get them to engage in a conversation rather than respond with a grunt, mumble or an “I dunno”
How do you continue to communicate with your children when the developmental advances, the changing brains and the influx of hormones renders the art of conversation somewhat distracted? Once again communicating with our kids when they are little is something we are more inclined to do well. We talk and interact constantly with our baby and toddler as we feed them, dress them, carry them, read to them and sing songs with them. But as they make their way through the primary school years and beyond and they gradually develop this independence, sometimes the communication needs to happen on a more conscious level.
Of course the ‘one word answer’ is not the case for all kids and certainly those parents that have been through “the grunting teen” have rejoiced in the return of their talkative kids once through this stage of development. But in the meantime, it is important to use whatever time you have to talk to your kids, to connect on a regular basis and to set up the foundations for a feeling of security for your kids, safe in the knowledge that there is always someone around to listen to the little things as well as the big things.
One such conversation is the “after school/end of the day conversation” where we as parents often try in vain to milk any little snippet of information to give us any indication of the daily happenings, and hence the daily happiness of our offspring. This was brought to my attention recently as we are temporarily having to drive to school and hence now have this opportunity to discuss the day. As a result, I have had to get a little more creative in the questions I ask in order to illicit a response worth listening to!
For myself and for many families, the conversation can often go something like this:
Parent: “How was your day?”
Child: Any one of the following: “good”, “Bad”, “OK”, “Alright”, “Fine”
Parent: “What did you do?
Child: Any of the following: “I dunno”, “Nothing much”, “can’t remember”
So in order to challenge this I changed my tact to such questions as:
- What was the best thing that happened to you today?
- What was the worst thing?
- What did you learn today that you didn’t know yesterday?
- Was there something you did really well today?
- Was there something you’d do differently?
Now of course you can still get the one word answer, but being more specific with our questioning certainly does ensure that they are more likely to think about their response and offer up something that gives us much greater insight, enables a conversation to naturally flow and and ultimately ensures greater communication and connection.
Do you stuggle to get conversation from your kids? Do you have any other ways to combat the ‘one word answer’?