9.5 Different Ways To Ask Kids About Their Days

If you've ever posed the question How was your day? to your kids over dinner, you already know that you're more likely to get a one-word answer like fine or yes than any real insight into their day. 

However, just because you will likely hear fine, OK, or meh does not mean you should stop asking the question, it just means that you should change the way you're asking it.

That's why we've got 9.5 other ways to ask your kid about their day that are all but guaranteed to steer them away from their standard monosyllabic responses and get them to open up. Why 9.5, you ask? Read on to find out.

What was your favorite/least favorite part of the day?

It works for the Kardashians—although when they ask, they call it the peak and the pit—so it stands to reason that it will work for your family too.

Asking your kids about the best and worst parts of their days not only gets them talking about what they did, but it also lets them know that you don't just want to hear about the good parts. They'll recognize they can confide in you about their low points as well.

What’s crackin? What’s the haps? What’s the skinny?

All three of these old slang terms basically mean “What’s up?” and can be used effectively to ask your kids what's going on. Where these phrases originated is up for debate.

For instance, what's crackin' is believed to come from craic, an Irish word that means "fun and entertainment," especially as it pertains to good conversation and company.

What's the haps, on the other hand, appears to be an abbreviation of what's happening. As for what's the skinny, well, you may have US soldiers to thank for that one. It is believed that the skinny is old military slang for the naked truth.

While older kids may find these phrases dated (and your attempts at sounding funny or hip cringey), your younger kids are sure to laugh at a dad joke (or mom joke!) here and there. Disarming them with a bit of humor may lead to a conversation about something on their minds or something that they had not thought to share.

Beware: with a child who is too young, you may get a list of things that are indeed cracked or skinny instead of comments about their day.

How did [insert specific thing here] go today?

Skip the broad strokes and do a deep dive.

What did you do during circle time?

Who did you sit with at lunch?

What happened when you turned in your book report?

These types of questions target one topic, and many of them can lead to further discussion. If something fun happened at circle time, or your child sat with a different group than usual at lunch, or if there was a big kerfuffle with the project that they’d been working on all week, you're likely to hear about it.

If you don't have enough information to even start asking about the specifics of their day—especially if your child is too old to tell you about every project or assignment—try asking leading questions with the information you already have, such as "What are you reading in English class?”

Tell me about your day | What was fine about your day?

This one does not start with a question so much as a direction or prompt, which should eliminate a lot of one-word answers. Still, you should prepare yourself for the adaptability of your teenager. While your teen cannot technically get away with saying "fine” when you ask them to tell you about their day, they can say, “It was fine.” Which, while not technically a one-word answer, is still basically the same thing.

So be prepared with the follow-up question, What was fine about your day? That way, you can delve into the details that may have been lacking in their answer.

What’s up, doc? | What’s up, buttercup?

What's up has been used for decades; it actually dates back to the early 1900s. The addition of doc and buttercup are a little more recent.

You can thank the hit 1968 song "Build Me Up Buttercup" by The Foundations for popularizing buttercup as a term of endearment. Doc is, of course, reminiscent of Bugs Bunny. You may have to explain what it means, and where it comes from, to younger kids who are less familiar with the talking rabbit.

Kids will love these rhyming questions. Not only are rhymes fun to say and hear, but they teach kids how language works and allow them to experience language as a rhythm.

Whichever you choose, this type of question is just another way to use humor to get your kids chatting, and get them feeling more comfortable and confident in revealing the details of their day.

What’s new? | What was different about your day today?

This is another question that might confuse a child prone to taking things literally but may spark an interesting conversation with an older child.

“What’s new?” your teen may parrot back. “You mean like this assignment on Of Mice and Men? Or how we had a sub today in English because Mr. Smith had to go out on jury duty, and what is jury duty anyway?”

Asking your child “What’s new?” encourages them to search their day for something different, or out of the ordinary. And if your child still isn't getting it, you can always ask the more specific and direct, "What was different about your day today?"

What did you learn today? | Teach me something you learned today.

Try taking a different angle and asking about the lessons of the day. It is school, after all. Maybe your child picked up a new skill (multiplication tables, for instance) or a new word while reading a book.

Asking them to think about what they learned also gives them an opportunity to reinforce the new information by explaining it to you. For example, if your child mentions that they started working on their multiplication tables in math class, you can use that as a prompt and ask for an explanation. Repetition is an important part of learning because it helps you practice and memorize new facts or skills, so this will benefit them too. And if you're talking about these new facts and skills over the dinner table during a lively conversation with family, it may feel a little less like schoolwork and a little more enjoyable.

Plus, there's always a chance you'll end up learning something new as well!

What do you wish you did differently today?

Hindsight is 20/20, and everyone can name at least one thing each day they wish they'd handled differently. Did your child skip the snooze button (which made them late)? Did they raise their hand to offer up the wrong answer in front of the entire class? Chances are there is one less-than-positive moment your child would like to erase from their day.

Asking about their regrets gives them a chance to reflect on some poor choices they made and gives you a chance to support them through embarrassing moments.

This is also an opportunity to teach important lessons about decision-making, such as weighing the pros and cons or assessing risk vs. reward. Get them thinking: is an extra few minutes of sleep worth the anxiety of having to rush out the door and potentially forgetting something? Sure, you were wrong this time when you raised your hand, but what if you're right next time?

Plus, asking them what they would change gives them a chance for a do-over, if only for a moment.

 

Would you like to hear about my day?

It may seem as though your own spreadsheets and all that inner-office drama between two coworkers would bore your kid to tears, but it may be just the thing they need to hear in order to kick-start their own stories about the day. If you offer some glimpses into your day, your child may be eager to respond in kind.

Just avoid bringing up anything that could possibly stress them out, like fears of being laid off, or how you microwaved leftover fish in the communal microwave.

Take your talk on the road

We've arrived at our ".5"!

If you're not getting as much from your child as you'd like during these face-to-face chats over dinner, try using any of these questions while you're both in a situation where eye contact is not expected. Try taking your daily Q&A on the road and see if that helps them open up any further. Sometimes not looking at each other allows for open conversation and feelings.

The Dictionary Is More Than The Word Of The Day

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