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Your Healthy Family: Talking to your kids about the first days of school

Posted at 1:22 PM, Aug 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-11 13:23:03-04

SOUTHWEST FLA. — Most parents would say when they ask their kids 'How was school?' their answer is usually 'Fine.' The David Lawrence Centers for Behavioral Health in Naples has some tips to get your kids to actually open up when asked this question.

"We have to structure our conversations pretty strategically or with with kids, right? If we ask yes or no questions, that's what we're going to get. It's going to feel like we're constantly pulling teeth to try to get those answers from them," Jessica Liria, the Prevention and Education Manager for the David Lawrence Centers for Behavioral Health in Naples, said.

She said parents need to be strategic.

"'What did you learn today?' That's the question that I remember my parents asking at dinner time, and it was always 'nothing.' And they're like, 'What am I sending you to school For? That's not really the answer,'" she said.

She said to be more specific.

"'What did you learn in history class today?' 'What did you learn in science class today?' Be more specific about those questions so that you get a more specific answer," Liria said.

She also recommends asking your kids open-ended questions.

"'Who are your teachers?' 'Who did you meet today?' 'What was your favorite thing that you did?'" she said.

Make sure to follow up.

"Maybe the second day, we kind of asked the same questions. Oh, 'Did another class stand out to you today that you really liked?' 'How's the playground?' Get them talking about the things that they did really like. Get them excited for that next day at school," Liria said.

She said to continue to ask: not just the first few days, but even months into the new school year.

She also has advice about getting kids to open up about a problem at school.

"I think the proactive and preventative approach is the way to go. Not saying 'Did anything go wrong with school today?' But saying, 'I'm always interested in knowing what has happened. I'm always here for you to talk to. I want to know what challenges you're having, please come talk to me.' Keeping that door always open," Liria said.

She said once you build that trust and your child does come to you with a problem, make sure to really hear them out. Listen to what they're saying, and don't over-react. Just gently guide them to a solution.