How often do you ask your children how their day has gone only to meet an underwhelming response of ‘fine’? As a mum of two primary school aged children and a step mum of two teenagers, I know it happens more often than we’d like.
Here are some fun ways to open the conversation and encourage more interaction with your children.
Pose the question with choices
When you greet your kids ask them the following question: –
Have you had an incredible day, a fantastic day or a truly amazing day?
Giving them three positive choices will not only provide an alternative response to ‘fine’, it will help your children to think about the positive things that have happened during the day. Once they provide an answer ask them why by saying ‘What made it so incredible/fantastic or truly amazing? And then, very importantly, be interested. Listen very carefully to the responses and acknowledge you are listening by asking follow-up questions.
Practice gratitude as a family
Sit together at dinner and implement a new routine centred around gratitude. Ask your child/ children what they are thankful for about their day and role-model how to do this by sharing your own thoughts too. Focus on little things such as seeing a rainbow or hearing the birds singing as well as achievements and time with loved ones. Help little ones to understand that there is much to be grateful for outside of material things and use the premise of gratitude to open conversation.
Research by social psychologist Amy Cuddy proves that if you stand in the stance of your favourite superhero (such as hands on hips and chin up like Super girl), for a few minutes before a test, exam, performance or interview, your ability to perform rises substantially. Share this idea with your children and have fun practicing the poses together. Remind them that they can use their super-hero pose anytime they need it either before school starts or even during the break times. Ask them which superhero they have been today and how using the pose helped. Let them know if you have used it too.
Have Worry Time
Often children carry anxiety or worries about little things that if shared won’t seem quite so bad. Having an outlet for this is effective so implement worry time and ask your children regularly if they need to use it. Have a quiet place in the home for worry time and if you have more than one child, make this an individual activity. Spend just ten minutes as and when required and always acknowledge your children’s worries as valid, however small they may seem to you. Encourage your child to come up with solutions rather than offering your own by asking questions such as ‘what could you do about that?’ or ‘what would you like to happen?’.
At the end of school, ask your little one how they would rate the day on a scale of 1-10 if 1 is ‘boring’ and 10 is ‘amazeballs’. When they provide a rating ask them what made today that score. If they scored their day with a 5 ask them what would need to be different to make it a 7 or 8 and how could they make that happen.
My article was featured in Mother and Baby – December 18
If you would like to help your children stay positive check out my new journal for 6-10 year olds, The Happy Path, here