If you're like most parents, then some variant of, “Hi honey, did you have a good day at school?” is one of the first things that comes out of your mouth each evening. But according to licensed professional counselor Kristin Wilson at Newport Academy, this seemingly innocent question could actually be problematic.
Here's why: “When you ask your child if things are fine or good, you’re giving them the message that you want everything to be OK,” says Wilson. “Kids don’t want to disappoint or disturb their parents, so they’re more likely to say 'sure' or just nod in response and let you believe that everything’s fine—even if it isn’t.”
But on the flip side, questions that are too general (like “How was your day?”) often produce one-word answers that don’t give you any information about what's actually going on in your child's head. So, what's the fix? To figure out how your child is really feeling, Wilson suggests asking specific yet open-ended questions like, “How was your get-together with Rachel?” or “How did that geometry test go today?”
“The ultimate goal is to give your kids the sense that you’re open to anything they have to say, whether positive or not so positive. Thus, they’re more likely to share what’s going on in their lives.”
Your child gets the opportunity to open up about what's on their mind and you can stop badgering them to tell you about what happened at school. That's a win-win in our book.