As a family with working parents and school going children, we so often spend our days without even touching base with each other, we go on with the day’s routine as a mindless act, and more often than not we skip over some very critical opportunities to really connect or even re-connect with our children. For the longest time I didn’t realize how important children feel, when parents take the time to ask them mindful questions. Not just random or routine things that they come to learn as very standard questions with very standard answers like “How was your day?” the response to this usually being “Fine” but deeper meaningful ones that make them actually think about an answer and make you often really sit up and listen.
I’d like to give you an example of how I/we have been doing it, and all wrong I might add. This is a summary of the questions asked by me and the answers I am given when I get home from work, and have one or all of my kids all vying for my attention at the same time, barely five minutes after walking in the door and while heading off to the kitchen to start supper. I don’t really know if this scenario plays out differently with stay at home or Work from home parents because I haven’t had experience of that. All I know is after a long day at work, a car trip home and the thought of making dinner all combined is enough to switch my brain off completely and I go into “robot” mode. This is what usually transpires next:
Eldest Child generally appears first. “Hi Mom, you’re here!” and presents me with a pack of school circulars which according to her are all equally important and MUST have my full attention immediately. I take them and put them down on the counter saying I’ll look at them later. I continue preparing for dinner. I then ask her “How was your day?” She says “fine” I say “good”. then “Did you do any sport today?” she says “Yes” I say “What?” she says “Tennis” I say “ok”. then I ask, “Have you done your homework?” she always says “Yes” I ask, “do you need me to go over anything with you”? She will mention something if there is but usually just reading and so I sign her homework book. Then she goes off to watch something on TV or to play with her siblings or asks if she can help with dinner. I give her a task and we just go on with it. She sometimes tells me about things that happened at school that were of importance to her but I never ask her any questions to spark a meaningful conversation. After that the other kids will be joining and I will ask similar questions and get pretty similar answers.
So you get the gist of what I am trying to say here? Does it sound like I know my kids? Like I really know what’s going on in their heads and hearts on any given day? Well to me that is a resounding NO, and just recently I came to that realization, when my daughter and I weren’t seeing eye to eye on something, which happens quite a bit lately, and she shouted in absolute frustration “You don’t know me at all” I couldn’t argue with that and after apologizing profusely I promised I would do my best to begin to be more consciously involved.
So during this time I set out to really think about what needed to happen. I wasn’t sure exactly what needed to change, but after doing some web trawling I saw more and more people struggling with similar issues, and a lot of them were saying that asking the right questions can make all the difference. I set out to find out what “The right questions” were. These are the ones that stood to me. The ones that really get the best responses which lead to meaningful conversations and gives me a peek into my children’s thoughts and feelings and can all be done over dinnertime or even at bed time (usually when I am able to do it properly) I thought I would share these with you. Perhaps you can use them too.
You may find that you start having all sorts of meaningful conversations with your children and find out all sort of heart revealing things about how they truly feel, what they think about and how they really are coping. They will also feel a deeper connection to you, they will feel valued and important and that at the end of the day is what most if not all parents aspire to achieve. Deep heart opening conversations are always great but they dont’ happen often and can sometimes be very overwhelming for a child. Doing it this way allows these conversations to take place in a way that the child often doesn’t even realize that they are busy opening up and it just becomes a normal way to talk. After a while you will start to see regular patterns with answers and you will start to understand
These are some of the questions you can ask. Try it out. You don’t have to ask them all, sometimes just one question is all you need. Try asking them at different times. In the car on the way to school or on the way home. At Dinner time or at Bed time. You really can decide what works best.
1. What made you the happiest today?
2. If you could do one thing over today, what would it be?
3. Are you worried about anything that happened today?
4.Did anything Frustrate you today?
5. What are you most thankful for today?
6. What was the best thing in your lunchbox today and what was the worst?
7. What made you sad today?
8.Who did you enjoy playing with today?
9. Is there something that you are looking forward to doing tomorrow?
10. Did anything funny happen today?
I am sure you will start to see your connection with your kids improving if you try this out. I know I certainly have. It works for all ages, you can adjust the questions accordingly. I really am great-full that I started doing this and couldn’t wait to share it with you. I would love to hear your thoughts once you have tried this out. How do you gain insight into your kids thoughts at the moment? Do you have dinner time chats or do you prefer bed time chats? I would love to engage with you on this. Please share this post if you found it helpful. I would love everybody to benefit from it.