It’s 3:50 p.m. and I’m in the pick-up line at school. I love the moment my two children get into my vehicle, because I have missed being with them all day. My 8-year-old daughter begins to tell me an anecdote of her day before the door is shut and I can safely pull away. She always ends her story with “…and did you bring me a snack?” 🙂
I have learned not to ask my 11-year-old “how was your day?” because the answer will always be one word and the conversation is over. If I want to hear about his day, I have to ask a better question and to successfully parent him I need to listen to his answers.
I’m sure many of us have seen the list of “50 Questions to Ask Your Kids Instead of “How Was Your Day.” (https://herviewfromhome.com/50-questions-to-ask-your-kids-instead-of-asking-how-was-your-day/) There are great questions to get the after school conversations rolling:
- What made you laugh today?
- Was anyone absent?
- Who did you play with?
- What are you reading?
- What made you feel happy?
- What made you feel frustrated?
Indeed these are better questions with more focus on the small things that make up a child’s day.
But I’ve started something new with my two children. Because while I do care about what they are learning, I care more for how they treat others and themselves. So now when they pile into the vehicle — some days tired and other days still energetic — we talk about kindness. I ask them:
- What is something kind you did for someone today?
- What is something kind that someone did for YOU?
- How did you give yourself grace?
I love hearing THIS part of their day. I hear stories of sharing and giving of supplies. I hear about holding doors and letting someone at the drinking fountain first. I hear how they felt by helping peers understand the work they are doing, and how they appreciate the help when it’s returned. I hear how they aren’t giving up when they are frustrated and extending grace to themselves in the learning process — because there will be a tomorrow to understand something better. Their stories to me quickly become a conversation between the two of them: my son lending support to his little sister and she returns the good feelings with admiration of what her big brother gets to do. I listen and learn more about my children as people with these three questions than anything else.
I challenge you to spread kindness, receive kindness, and extend grace to yourself every single day. Ask your children (even grown children) what they did that was kind. Ask your partner. “Because part of being successful is about asking questions and listening to the answers.” — Anne Burrell, chef.
Yours in parenting,