Oftentimes, when I get off of work, my husband Nate will ask “How was your day?” Sometimes, I particularly enjoy sharing how things went: an anecdote from the classroom, new work that I’ve introduced. There can be particular joy in offering insight into the way I spend 1/3 of each day.
Still, other times I see him, and when he asks, I say “Fine,” and then move the conversation on to other things. Maybe how his day went, or how we will spend our evening. Sometimes about what good articles he’s read that day, or if there were any good stories on NPR. Sometimes we just cherish a quiet car ride together, listening to our baby, William, babble in the backseat. I have already had my day at work, and now I just want to enjoy my family.
It is the same for children. When they see their parents at the end of a busy day, sometimes they may have things to share–something that happened with a friend, a new lesson. But many times, having had a long morning, often filled with a variety of activities, they don’t want to talk about it. They have had that part of their day, and now it is over. They may even not remember large parts of their day. What happened in the past is the past. They are so excited to be reunited that what happened during the day seems unimportant.
When pressured for information, sometimes the children will make things up, seeking to fulfill what is being requested of them easily so they can move on to the next step. Sometimes, they will clam up, not wanting to speak at all. They may say “I did nothing today.” or “I don’t know.” Instead of insisting on an answer (would you do this in conversation with an adult?), ask once, and then move on. Talk about what you are going to do in the afternoon. Talk about what you did that day. Talk about the song that is playing on the radio. Talk about what you will do for dinner that night.
Share easy and comfortable conversation with your child, being sure to leave space and time for them to think and participate in the conversation. Don’t make the conversation a barrier they must pass before whatever they do next–rather, let the conversation be a part of the flow. Take their cues, and close the conversation when they seem finished. As with all things, I encourage you to follow YOUR child.
Once you take the pressure of sharing off, you may find that you are hearing more, just by virtue of letting it come up naturally. For me, this often happens in the evening hours, right after dinner or just before bed. For some, (particularly older) children, the sharing may come more naturally. For others, it may be some time before they want to or are even able to divulge the entire content of their day to you. Be patient. It will come.