Getting My 5 Year Old Son to Open up and Talk to Us About His Day
October 24, 2008
Kansas City, KS
I'm having a hard time getting my 5 year old son to open up and talk to us about his day at school or what's going on with him (his behavior). I don't know what to do? I feel like me asking 50 million questions is only turning him away even more. I've tried to wait till we sit down and eat dinner but get the same response "I don't know" or "I don't remember". I get frustrated very easily and am trying my best to relax I've been this way for years even before I had kids. HELP. any advise is appriciated. Thanks S.
Try playing the "up-down" game. Everybody around the dinner table can play by saying the best thing about the day followed by the worst thing about the day. When it's a game where everyone plays, it seems less like the 3rd degree and more like fun.
Relax. He's 5, not 25. :-)
Most kids this age really aren't very capable of verbalizing their own *feelings*, much less pulling lots of random bits of abstract information together from their memories, like, "what did you do in school today?" It just isn't something his brain can handle yet. In other words, he probably really *doesn't* remember!
You need to be his guide to help him recall things--and it will take time and patience. Kids at this age need specific questions, but they also can't really process too much at once, especially after a long day at school.
Decide on a couple of specific questions to ask each day, like, "Who did you sit next to at snack time today?" It helps if you can get some info from the teacher in the morning about what they will be going over ("Your teacher said she was going to read 'Little Red Riding Hood' at storytime today. What was your favorite part of the story?"). Give him time to think and answer (don't interrupt), and if he just gives you a short answer or, "I don't know," at first, let it go at that. Ask the same couple of questions every day, and he will probably start giving you more information as he gets more used to organizing memories and putting those ideas into words.
You can also use his take-home projects and worksheets to start a conversation and help him with recall, but again, expect short answers at first. "Tell me about this picture you drew."
As far as behavior goes in school, usually no news is good news. If you are worried about it, certainly contact his teacher. Set up a meeting with him/her if needed.
The best suggestion I can give, however, is this: if it is at all possible, volunteer in his classroom once or twice a month (or more often if the teacher needs the help and you can spare the time). Set it up with his teacher. Most teachers appreciate the help, and you can get a much better idea of how your son's regular school day goes. Then when you get home, you and your son can both share memories of "what happened in school today." :-)
HTH! Good luck!
After reading your post, I just had to respond. I am a teacher with a 6 yr old son that goes to the same school. Actually, I am his Spanish teacher and everyday I ask what he did at school. His first response (always) is I dont know or dont remember. I let it go at that and later on I ask more specific questions, who did you plat at recess? What games did you play, hide/seek or tag? Or I bring up lunch--he can always remember recess or lunch, his 2 favorite "subjects." Did you like your lunch (not did you eat your lunch). What was your favorite part of lunch? Or what was the funniest thing that happened at school? Who is your funniest friend at school? "I bet your teacher read you a book--did you like it?? I always have to ask, What did you do in Spanish today. That's always answered with a "You know mom!"
Well I'll tell you the only answers I got out of my 4 yr old in Preschool was "Fine, good, great, ok, nothing, I don't remember." I swear someone has slipped these kids manuals! Anyway, this year as a Kindergartner, I will occassionally get those answers but now I ask more pointed questions. Like what was the letter of the day? What did you do in Labs today? What did you do at recess? Who sat at your table with you? What was the story about that you read in class?
Usually, when he walks in the door I ask him "how was school?" And I get great. Sometimes he elaborates but many times not...so I leave it be. He wants to unwind and watch his cartoons...then I probe more at dinner... Once I even made him sit at the table and tell me one bad thing and 3 good things about his day before he got up! I simply explained to him that I loved him and missed being around him all day and I many times I would stop during the day and think about him and wonder what he was doing. Ask him if he wonders what you are doing? Chances are he does too. Tell him you really want to hear about his day because you miss him so much and it's a way you can feel like you are still part of his day...and tell him what you did while he was gone... it's totally frustrating but these are the building blocks of years to come...keep up the good work and know that years from now you will have a child that will talk to you instead of just telling you "fine"
You got pretty good responses here!
My kid was and is like yours; but he is 8 years old now.
I think you shouldn't push him too much and get upset or frustrated when he doesn't tell you about his day at school. I used to get frustrated too, but I realized that it didn't work...So, I started to ask more specific questions, but not immediately after school, first just a "hi my champion, how are you doing? Do you have a fun day at school?" If he does not answer or just tell a little bit, it is fine, I just let him be....and I tell him about what happened to me during the morning, and sometimes he starts right there telling me something that happened to him in the class or so...And then, when he is doing his homework and we, together, check his school work, I ask him about lunch, what he played at recess, what was the fun part of his day, or the "so, so" part during his day, what he liked better...etc.
If you feel something is wrong, try too keep an open communication with his teacher, or if you just want to check on his behavior, ask his teacher for a daily chart about that, they sure do that. Attending and helping in the classroom, will also help you to know more about your child's day.
Your kid will talk to you when he thinks something is important, sometimes some things that are important for us, moms, are not important for them or have the same priority. Finally, he will learn. My kid now talks to me very openly specially at bedtime, and tells me everything that happens at school, and in the last year, when he gets in the car he says to me: "mommy, today I didn't follow instructions...sorry..but you know what? I did a great job in the quiz, and I got a candy!"
So....that time that you are looking forward will come soon, don't worry and ask him what you want to know little by little. It is important to consider too that may be he is just not an outgoing little person..but keep just asking in a subtle way, and then more specific questions without pushing too much. Some days, he will tell you a lot, and some other days may be he will not.
My daughter is 5, and just has trouble remembering all the things she did if I ask her general questions. So, I have found a way of finding out what she did. I ask these questions or variations of on our way home from preschool/daycare. "what did you do that you didn't like today" "what did you do that you liked the best" What did you and (insert bff name) do together" "what did you have for lunch" "what did you do at carpet/group time, did you estimate". If my questsions are specific, I often get that answer and it leads her to remember somehting else she wants to tell me. I also sometimes ask what other kids in her class did and then it leads to her telling me what they did together.
Honestly there's not a lot you can really do besides asking him. If locks up, I would just let it go.
Keep the questions to just a couple. Like who did you play with today, or did you work on your letter, numbers..etc.
Then let it go after that.
Is he having behaviorial problems? If so have you went up to his school to observe his day from a distance? Also if he is having problems ask the teacher for a daily report, I know it can be time consuming for teachers but it's an effective tool to see how he is progressing.
The main thing to remember is that your son is still young and developmentally kids this age don't always recount things that happened during the day especially if to them its just playing or learning activities. Ask a few questions but make them more specific instead of "How was your day?" or "What did you do at school today?" Kids are good at living in the moment so the past day isn't as important to him as it is to you.
Here are some great ideas....