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The Tricks of Talking to Your Child After School

All parents have played the non-answer game with their children at one point or another. You ask how their day was and they give you absolutely nothing in response. It’s easy to get worked up over the fact that your child is guarding the events of her day like they’re issues of national security. However, there are ways to get your student to open up.

After a long day of learning and socializing, your child is tired, just like you’re tired from a full day of work. A million things, great and small, have happened since your son got on the school bus, so when you ask "What happened today?" he may be overwhelmed. Allow your child to work through his day and recharge his batteries in a safe place before inquiring about the day.

In the meantime, you can talk about your day. When you model what type of sharing you want your child to participate in without pressure, your child will learn by watching you and soon join in the discussion. She will feel more open about sharing the good and bad of their day.

The other side of open-ended questions is active listening. Often when a child or teen wants to talk you are busy; if your child approaches you, take a break and listen. Take advantage of the time your child is ready. Ask engaging questions that encourage your child to talk more. Don’t just ask “How was your day?” Ask what the best or worse part of the day was. If you want to know something specific, don’t fish around for answers either. The more you fish around, the more your child will resent you.

And while some kids are naturally quiet, keep an eye out for red flags that may signal a deeper problem. If your normally talkative child suddenly doesn't want to talk about his or her day, is ambivalent about things he or she used to enjoy, experiences a sudden change in friends, or becomes sullen or irritable, there could be a major problem.

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