5 Things Never to Ask Your Child Right After School
- How was school today?
- What do you have for homework?
- When are you going to do your homework?
- What did you get on the test?
- What did you learn today?
You want to interact and make a connection as soon as your kids get home. Your kids do too, but not in the way you might think. You’ve missed them, want to know what they did in your absence, how they got along, or if they had any problems. But to your kids, questions can feel like an interrogation. They have just spent a long hard day trying to meet school expectations, such as listening to teachers, following directions, doing things they don’t necessarily want to do, coping as best they can, and hopefully working hard and learning. They need a break. They need to know, here is the place where I am completely accepted and loved. They need to chill.
Each of these 5 questions is filled with an expectation.
1. How was school today?
What if school was terrible? Your child may or may not want to tell you because he has a picture of exactly how you will react. Does he want to tell you the truth and have you get upset or worried and immediately ask more questions? Or does he want to make you happy so you won’t do the above. Even if it all went well, he probably doesn’t want to go through the details of the day—yet.
Safest answer: “Fine.”
2. What do you have for homework?
Homework is the last thing she wants to think about right now. Going through her head with this question is, Do you expect me to work all the time? Give me a break and get off my back. Your child has many more important things on her mind once she is out of school and probably none of them have to do with homework.
Safest answer: “I don’t have any.”
3. When are you going to do your homework?
Your child hears that all you care about is homework and grades. Is that true? Make sure you don’t have to police your child’s homework time. Establish ground rules about homework at the beginning of each year. With your guidance, allow your child to determine the best time and place to do homework. Keep it as consistent as possible, be interested and close at hand but assume he will do it himself. Let him know when you’re available and when not if help is needed.
Safest answer: “Later.”
4. What did you get on the test?
Asking about grades on tests sends the message to your child that your approval comes in grades as well. If your child did well, she will be thrilled to tell you without the question. If she did poorly, what does she expect your response to be? Will she get grounded, a privilege removed, extra homework time piled on?
Safest answer: “We didn’t get it back.”
5. What did you learn today?
Talking about what your child is learning is a subject worthy of discussion—at a later time. Do be involved in your child’s learning, let him know you care and are interested in what he’s doing in school, learn along with him, but save the talk until he brings it up or until it is a logical discussion during homework time.
Safest answer: “Nothing.”
When your kids get off the bus, climb in the car, or come through the door, welcome them back home. A big smile, a hug, a touch, and an “I’m so glad to see you” or “Hello, my darling” will give your kids the grounding that home provides with no expectations. Your unconditional happiness in greeting them will create the stress-free, safe haven they need to refuel and relax…and will set up the way the rest of the day goes.
A happy greeting can wipe clean any negative interactions left over from a morning conflict or difficulties at school. Your kids will know they’re home and can chill. There is plenty of time later for what you want to know about their day. Be patient and meet your children where they are at the end of a long school day.