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2 Questions That Get Kids Talking

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Late August and early September is back to school time, a time organizing the products from school supply lists into brand new backpacks and discussing the ever-important question, "What are you going to wear on the first day of school?"

If only that talkative enthusiasm would last.

Sure, the first fews days will be non-stop school updates, but, before long, the after-school conversation will quickly become a repeat of this short exchange, day after day.

You: "How was school today?"

Them: "Fine"

And that's when you realize you have absolutely no idea what's going on during those seven hours of your kid's life.

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When kids start telling you school was just "fine" every day, here's how to get them talking. It's what I call the "Just Two Things" game, and I have to give credit to my mother for this simple yet effective method for getting a few details about what's going on behind closed school doors.

My mom did this with my sister and me (though I didn't recognize at the time that she was doing it to hear more about my day), and then I saw it in action again when I was a bit older and my mom was caring for foster children.

It's amazing the details and situations these simple prompts bring to mind for your kids.

The idea is that you ask your child for two specific examples of something that happened every school day. Using opposites makes it fun and silly. If your kid doesn't feel like talking much about her day, let her know she must at least answer the Two Things of the day.

For example, you ask your child to tell you:

  • One happy thing and one sad thing
  • One thing that was hard and one thing that was easy
  • One thing he was proud of and one thing he needs to work on
  • One thing that made her laugh and one thing that made her nervous

Let your kids know they can come up with answers for the Two Things question from any part of their day, including classes, lunch, recess or even the bus ride to and from school. Don't let them tell you they can't think of anything—just pester them until they come up answers for the Two Things. Eventually, coming up with the daily answers will be a new pattern, instead of telling you that the school day was just "fine."

It's amazing the details and situations these simple prompts bring to mind for your kids. When you get in the habit of asking one of these Two Things every single day, it starts to make talking about both the good and challenging parts of their day easier.

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It also encourages kids to be more aware of their own feelings and observant of what's happening around them. You may soon notice that yesterday's Two Things answers will be something your chid updates you on the next day without prompting.

And just like that, you're in the loop.

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