“How was your day?” is a good place to start, but even young children will typically give a one word answer. Most parents want to have open communication with their children and teens, but it can be tough to know how to do that, especially if it wasn’t modeled for us. While you don’t want to overshare adult problems, it can be good to share about your day too. You can talk about a struggle with a project at work, something you succeeded in, a small disagreement with someone, a flat tire that was frustrating, something you’re looking forward to, or a nice conversation with a friend.

Here are a few things you can ask your child to open the door to communication:
“What made you laugh today?”
“What made you sad/upset today?”
“What were you proud of today?”
“Who did you sit with at lunch?”
“Did you talk to/play with (name friend) today?”
“What games did you play with (caregiver)?”
“Was anyone unkind to you or hurt you?”
“Did you feel safe? Did everyone follow the body safety rules?”

It may feel strange at first, but starting those conversations will help it feel natural when a child does need to talk about something heavy, whether it’s abuse or a broken friendship. Remember the goal is conversation, resist the urge to “fix” or correct when they respond. More questions will keep the conversation going and let your child know you are a safe place.

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