Stop Asking Your Kid About Their Day

Don't ask your kid what happened at school that day. Just don't.

Photo by Hunter Johnson on Unsplash

Look, I get it: You want to know how your kid's day was. Whether they're five or 15, you want to know every detail: Who they talked to, what they learned, how impressed or horrified their teacher was by their behaviour, who was mean to them, who they were mean to… and on, and on.

There are two potential outcomes for this habit: One, they're not going to do it. You'll get, at the most, a surly grunt or a "Nothing." They're tired. School is draining. If they're teenagers, they have had to get up early, and their circadian rhythms have turned them into night creatures. Even if they're the unusual kid who bounces out of bed in the mornings, they have just been through the academic and social wringer. School has taken its toll. Now they're out of school. What's the last thing they want to talk about? School. School is the thing that is over. And now you are demanding a recap. No.

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Two, they will do it because they see how much you want it and they're feeling generous, or they're a natural-born people pleaser, which is probably not a quality you want to encourage. But they're not going to be happy about it. You don't want your kid to simply cave under the weight of all your longing, do you? Of course you don't.

And you're not fooling anyone with those "questions about school that aren't 'how was your day,'" supposedly designed to get your kid talking. "What was the best part of your day? What was the worst part of your day? What are you most grateful for today? If your day could be a song, what would it be? What's the funniest thing that happened today?" These are even worse. These are horrible. Your child sees right through them, and you.

Try this instead: When you're reunited at the end of the day, look at them and say the following: "Hey, I'm so happy to see you." Then shut up. (You could add, "How are you?", especially if they appear troubled.) Or talk about anything else: What you're having for dinner that night, or an inspiration video about a cat and a dog who are best friends. And of course they might decide to get super chatty about school at that point, or later - during dinner or before bedtime. But you're not not asking them in a bid to get them to tell you stuff anyway, right? Of course not.


Comments

    If I said Hey, I'm so happy to see you." Then shut up. Then my kid would ask if I'm alright because that's a very strange thing to do.

    This article is spot on. My day was spent doing unpleasant things for people I don't like in exchange for money. Call it work, call it prostitution... whatever. Point is, I don't want to talk about it either.

    In my house, we eat dinner in uncomfortable, non-communicative silence. Like a real family, dammit.

    :P

    So parents are not allowed to be involved in their kid's lives anymore? Any other political correctness leftist SJW bullshit articles coming out Lifehacker?

    Showing an interest in your children or allowing them to debrief and unload at the end of the day isn’t a bad thing.
    However, robotically asking the same question every day and never really listening or engaging with the response...that’s a problem.

    When I ask my kids how their days were, they usually tell me in minute detail. Not because they’re sycophantic people pleasers. But generally because I listen, and they like that I’m interested.

    They share the good; particularly if they’ve done something worthy of praise :).

    They also share the bad; the value of which to a parent can not be overstated.

    Sometimes (though rarely) they don’t want to talk, and as a functioning human begin I can pick up on their less than subtle social cues and not push them for answers.

    Much better parenting to just drive home from school in silence, then lock them in their room with a phone or tablet. It's probably what your kid wants to do anyway.

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