PARENTS

3 Questions Your Kid Can’t Just Answer “NOTHINGGG” To

Now you can actually have a meaningful conversation.

09/12/2017 16:34 EDT | Updated 09/12/2017 16:35 EDT

Every night at the dinner table, you ask your child how their day was, and every night you get the same old answer: "Fine."

How on earth do you get your child to have a meaningful conversation with you if all they give you is one-word answers?

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Now that the kids are back in school, they'll have a lot more to talk about, such as their new friends, the experiment they conducted in science class, or how their teacher told a really funny joke. But despite this, it can sometimes be hard to get the ball rolling and get kids to open up at first.

That's why Lynn Gibson, a child-care expert and former president of the Florida Family Child Care Home Association, says parents have to make conversation part of their routine.

Mirror to them what you want them to learn.

"Communication is learned," Gibson told Care.com. "Mirror to them what you want them to learn. If you take time to have a conversation with your child after picking them up from being in care all day, it will become a habit for both of you."

But what are you supposed to ask? According to Ann Douglas, Canadian parenting expert and author of Parenting Through the Storm, you should ask open-ended questions.

Here are three questions she suggests parents ask to get kids talking.

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1. "What is the best thing that happened to you today? How about the worst?"

If you're eager to ask your child how their day was, then this is the way to do it. "This question is open-ended enough to encourage a reply that goes beyond a grunt or an eyeroll, so it gives you something to work with," Douglas, who is a mom of four, explained to HuffPost Canada in an email. "Even if your child insists that nothing good happened and that 'everything' was the worst, you can proceed to validate your child's emotions and talk about why she's feeling so frustrated or discouraged."

"It also teaches your child that you can have a day that's a mix of good and bad," she added. "In fact, most days tend to be like that! This will help her to understand that being human is about experiencing a range of emotions — and sometimes all at the same time."

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2. "I've been thinking about something you said last night. Could you tell me a bit more about [blank]?"

Douglas suggests using this question as a way to pick up from a previous conversation. "This demonstrates to your child that you were paying attention enough to remember what the two of you were talking about last night or this morning, and that you continue to think about her in-between conversations — something that will help her to feel seen, heard, and cared about," Douglas said.

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3. "What is the best way for me to help you when you're having a bad day? What is most helpful? What is least helpful?"

"This reminds your child that one, you are there to help; and two, you want to help in a way that makes things better, not worse!" Douglas said. "It demonstrates how much you care about her and how much you value your relationship."

The Peterborough, Ont. author also noted that this question teaches your child how to communicate with others. "It models a skill that she can apply to her other relationships: how to talk to other people about what [they] want and need," she said.

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