Junior level primary school and VCE students headed back to school last week and the rest of the school body will return after the long weekend. We need to tread carefully with our kids during this transition after the unprecedented period caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. There could still be anxiety surrounding the changes that have passed, changes to how the school runs, and changes within the greater community. One of the most important things you can do is keep an open line of communication with your child. Here are some points to consider when speaking to your child.
Find a good time to talk with your child and know that this may vary for each individual. Ideal times might be:
- After school pick up: Some will be keen to talk straight after school but others will need that time to wind down in other ways.
- The dinner table: this can be a good opportunity to discuss things as a family and to hear from each person, even the adults, and perhaps find some common ground.
- Whilst playing: A casual conversation when doing another activity with parents, like playing a game or cooking, might be easier to establish for some children.
- Bedtime: Provided your children aren’t too tired, this can be a wonderful time to connect. There is an opportunity to have a hug and unload any worries without any distractions.
Ask specific questions
A general question like ‘How was your day?’ invites underwhelming and vague answers like ‘Good’. By asking specific questions, your child might find it easier to respond. Some ideas of what to ask include:
- What was your favourite part of the day?
- What was the worst part?
- What was the funniest part?
- Who did you play with/hang out with?
- What did you do today that you were proud of?
- What were you grateful for?
How you ask
Just as important as speaking with your child is making sure you are doing it in the best way possible. This is for their mental health; they need to feel as though they are being heard. Your kids will pick up if you are distracted or not listening properly. Speak to your child:
- When you can give your full attention
- When you can be present
- In a quiet time with no technology close by to distract you
These conversations may not always go to plan and some days you may not get much of a response. That is perfectly okay, Though they may not say it, your children will appreciate you asking and when they have something to say, they know that the opportunity will be there.