From Greenline’s Back-to-School Archive

Advice from 1999 that Holds up in 2015:

From the Greenline Archive

Getting Kids to Talk About School

By Greenline, from September 1999

Have you noticed? You ask your child what happened at school today and the answer is “Nothing.”

To get kids to talk, you have to catch them when they are in the mood, usually not right after school. That’s the time they want to unwind and forget about it, says Susan Safranski, president of the National Association of School Psychologists.

Good times to talk may be when kids are having a snack, at the dinner table, or after you read them a story. If you look into a child’s backpack, you will get ideas about what to talk about.

Don’t be an interrogator, but ask specific questions the child can easily answer. Think of something interesting about his class or classmates. Try to follow up on something the child has told you before.

When you visit the classroom, look carefully at the projects on the wall so you can ask about them.

It’s important to judge your child’s feeling, Safranski says. Instead of asking, “How was school today?” say, “You’re pretty excited. How come?” or “You’re a little down. Did something go wrong at school?” But Safranski doesn’t recommend asking what was the best thing or worst thing that happened today.

Sharing what happened in your own day is one way to draw kids out.

When children are ready to talk, pay attention to what they say. Kids may get discouraged if you continue to work while they are talking. If that’s necessary, comment and look at them often to show your interest.


Be Specific With Praise

By Greenline, from September 1999

If you keep telling your children that they are great, wonderful, or terrific, they will not value your praise. Rather, be precise and say what was done that pleased you. By doing so, you enhance your credibility, and your child will believe that this particular thing he did was something he could be proud of.

Some kids find it hard to accept praise and totally reject unrealistic or general compliments. Avoid superlatives like best, smartest, and always.

Also avoid using negative labels and calling a child such names as lazy, dumb, clumsy and slovenly.

Point out a child’s potential, but present your ideas as suggestions, not demands, says Martin Seldman, author of Performance without Pressure.



Author: The Greenline

Your monthly source for North Brooklyn community news covering Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Bushwick. Currently 13,000 copies are distributed throughout the community free of charge. Articles published with The Greenline byline includes content cited directly from press releases or published statements and/or is the work of a combination of vetted authors or sources.

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