Your child will love to tell you about their day at school – the highlights and the low points, too. But it’s hard to make time for casual chat in a busy day and that precious sharing time is all too easily lost.
Here are six opportunities to look out for through the day and make time for if you can. Your phone and other distractions will need to be out of the way for these key parenting times, just for a few minutes.
When you wake your child in the morning
Early morning may not seem to you a great time for chatting. You are probably still sleepy at this time and will have deadlines to meet, too. But it could be the perfect time for your child to tell and ask, while warm and relaxed in bed.
Wake them a few minutes early for this sharing opportunity, setting the ball rolling with some small talk about the day ahead.
Try to make time for a sit-down breakfast with your child. It’s not only a nutritious and energising meal to start the day with but a great opportunity to share thoughts and feelings, too. If you’ve already had a chat at their bedside, you can pick up where you left off, enriching the rapport between you.
Otherwise, start now, as you munch and sip together. Watch for any signs of anxiety that might need smoothing away or addressing, and share happy thoughts, too.
When you meet up after school
Your child will naturally want to tell you about their school day afterwards. In fact, chances are they will be bursting with news and views to share with you, so be ready. They will be glad to share the ups and downs, the interesting facts they have learnt and the funny or exciting things that happened since they saw you last.
For you, they will be a glimpse of your youngster’s school life and some insight on they are making of it, which you will be glad to know.
“The more you can give, the happier they will be”
Over the evening meal
Your child may have left thoughts of school behind by the time they sit down to eat, so why not tell them a little about your own day now?
They need to be aware that you have a life to lead too and the two-way sharing of experiences will nurture mutual understanding between you. But if you have nothing particular to tell them, you could open an exciting topic for them, like jungle animals, extreme weather or pirate treasure, or tell a funny anecdote to set you both giggling together.
While sharing a game or story
Your child will love you to play with them or read them a story. Your involvement will reassure them of your care and interest, building their confidence and self-esteem, so join in whenever you can. Every time you share a game or book, you enrich the bond between you.
At bath or bedtime
By the end of the day, your child may feel weary and a little emotional, after the exertions of the day. They will enjoy your soothing company as they lie back in the bath tub or bed. Your familiar presence will be reassuring, as you settle them down for the night. It’s worth lingering a few minutes before leaving the room, too, in case they have any more thoughts to air.
It’s not easy to free up time in the day for chatting with your child but the more you can give, the happier they will be. What’s more, they are likely to do better at school, and in life, for their quality time with you.