By Bonnie Harris
You want to interact and make connection when your kids get home from school. Your kids do too but not in the way you might think.
You’ve missed them, you want to know what they did all day, how they got along, if they had any problems. But questions can feel like an interrogation.
- How was school today?
- What do you have for homework?
- When are you going to do your homework?
- What did you get on the test?
- What did you learn today?
They have just spent a long hard day meeting (or not) expectations, doing things they might not want to do, following orders, coping for hours, and hopefully working hard and learning. Probably the last they want to do is go over their day with you. They need a break. They need to know here is the place where I can be myself. They need to chill.
Each of these 5 questions is filled with an expectation.
How was school?
What if school was terrible? Your child may or may not want to tell you because he has a picture of exactly how you will react with his answer. Does he want to tell you the truth and upset you and immediately ask more questions? Or does he want to make you happy so you won’t do the above. Even if it all went well, he doesn’t want to go through the details of the day.
Safest answer: “Fine.”
What do you have for homework?
Homework is the last thing she wants to think about right now. She might be thinking, Do you really expect me to work all the time? You must think I’m stupid. Get off my back. Your child has many more important things on her mind once she is out of school and it’s likely that none of them have to do with homework.
Safest answer: “I don’t have any.”
When are you going to do your homework?
Your child hears from this question that all you care about is homework and grades. Is that true? Make sure you don’t have to police your child’s homework time. Establish ground rules about homework at the beginning of each year. With your guidance, allow your child to determine the best time and place to do homework. Keep it as consistent as possible and let him know you’re there for help. But let him be in charge of his homework.
Safest answer: “Later.”
What did you get on the test?
Asking about grades on tests sends the message to your child that your approval comes in grades as well. If your child did well, he will be thrilled to tell you without the question. If he did poorly, what does he expect your response to be? Will he get grounded, a privilege removed, extra homework time piled on? If he got a D, do you get a D in parenting?
Safest answer: “We didn’t get it back.”
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