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'How Was Your Day?' Better Questions to Ask Kids (page 2)

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Updated on May 20, 2013

Tests

  • Instead of: “Are you ready for your math test tomorrow?”
  • Ask: “What did you do to prepare for your math test?”

Studying isn't intuitive and most kids simply don't know how to do it. Sleeping on the textbook and learning by osmosis usually doesn't work. If your child mentions ineffective tactics, you might want to step in and help make some flashcards or do some practice questions. 

  • Instead of: “Why did you do so poorly on this test?”
  • Ask: “What can we do differently next time so that you get a better grade?”

Most kids want to do well in school and whether they admit it or not, getting a poor grade can make them feel pretty crummy. While they absolutely share a great amount of the responsibility for doing well, making their success seem like a team effort can motivate them to try harder and to communicate with you. 

  • Instead of: “How did you do on that test you had today?”
  • Ask: “I used to get really nervous before a big math test. Numbers still kind of make me nervous. How did you feel during your test today?”

Sometimes kids forget that the adults in their lives were once kids too. Remind your child that you were once in his shoes. If you have a funny story about a test gone wrong, share it! Come on, we've all been there. It may help your child open up about his own struggles.

As your child gets older, you may feel like you're trying to crack open a vault, and the combination keeps changing. Keep up with what's going on in your child's life by asking more specific and open-ended questions and listen to the answers. If you know who your child plays with and who is mortal enemy #1 this week, you'll go a long way in gaining "parent cred" in the long run. Even if he doesn't talk much, your child still wants to know that you're listening.

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