How was your day?
One of the biggest complaints I hear from parents is that when they ask their child the universal after-school question “How Was Your Day?’” they typically get no response or if their child feels particularly generous they might get a “Good” or a “Fine”.
Most of the times when parents complain about their children not communication about their day I ask them if they ever share about their day? They typically give me a puzzled look but asking a child especially a 3 or 4-year-old about their day involves not only language skills but they have to be able to remember parts of their day and be able to sequence and organize it into a somewhat coherent beginning, middle and end.
Typically these executive functioning skills don’t appear until they are closer to 5 years old.
How to get your little one to tell you about their day
When my daughter transitioned from her nanny-share to preschool at two years old my daily communication and pictures of her dramatically decreased so I started doing a daily dinner ritual of sharing our days. At first, it was just me sharing with her with I did at work. I started out with the sentence frames of “Today at work I……”. “My favorite thing about today…..”. You can also insert some emotional language with “I felt really happy when…..” or “I felt really frustrated when…..”.
Children learn from modeling and by absorbing their environment around them.
Just think about how many times your child has played teacher or family this week? “How Was Your Day?” is also a very broad question. It is often to ask specific questions like “Who did you sit with at lunch?”, “What did you do at recess?”.
Find the right timing
It’s also important to gauge your child’s emotions when you pick them up. Some children need time to process their day and just decompress before answering questions. This is especially true for children who hold it all together during the school day and then just explode at the tiniest issue.
For children that tend to be shyer or are still developing their language skills, they may also prefer to draw an aspect of their day that stood out but again as the parent take the lead and draw a picture first or next to them. So the next time you are inclined to ask your child about their day, pause and just talk about your own day. However mundane or exciting it is, and you might be surprised with how much information down the line you’ll get in return.
Kat is school psychologist with over a decade of experience working with toddlers to school-aged children. She is also a Certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator and has taught classes and workshops in increasing coping skills and self-regulation to children. She specializes with early intervention, Autism, and behavior management. She lives in Berkeley, CA with her husband and two young kids.