"How was your day?"
Um, yeah. Even though some days they might be chatty Cathy's, most of the time it can be hard to get them to complete a sentence. Don't even get me started on once the electronics/devices come out.
Being a speech therapist, I wanted to think of a way to get them to not only respond with more than a one to two word answer, but to actually communicate. I came up with something that began as a way to start a conversation in the car, but turned into more than I'd planned.
It happened one day at a red light when the series of grunts and monosyllabic utterances had made their rounds from my three boys, when it hit me. I said, "Okay, red light, yellow light, green light". The boys looked up, while our little girl sat straight with a smile of curiosity.
"What do you mean?" One of them squinted.
"Red light. Tell me something bad about your day. Something you wish wouldn't have happened or could've gone a different way."
The kids looked somewhat confused, but a little interested.
"Yellow light. Tell me some news. It doesn't have to be good or bad, just news. It can be about anything."
Getting the idea, they added, "And green means good?"
"Yep. Green light is anything you're happy about. Good news. Friends, grades, any news you're excited about and want to share."
And so it began. Each day we had the routine of "Red light, yellow light, green light", starting with the bad and ending with the good.
It's made the biggest difference due to a very simple reason. Not only does it present an open ended style that requires more than a one to two word response, it provides a guide for them to follow. It allows them to know not only do I want to hear about their news, (the yellow) papers I need to sign, deadlines or projects coming up, but more importantly, I want to know the good and bad of their days. What made them happy or mad no matter how great or small. Everyday will have its ups and downs and it's okay to know even though you always hope for the good, some days will have more red than green. It provides a way to categorize and open up about not only what occurred, but how it made them feel.
So next time you're in the car and sitting at a red light, give it a try and see how it goes. You've got nothing to lose and who knows, it might get your kids to open up to more than you could've imagined.