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10 Questions to Ask Your Mom After School… instead of “why isn’t the wifi working?

Since the kids have started back to school, I have seen a multitude of extremely useful articles about questions we can ask our kids when they get home, instead of “how was school?” or “what did you do today?”. You know… the types of questions that could possibly ignite an actual conversation with our children and reveal some information… ANY information… other than the shoulder shrug and the answer that seems to have been seared into the forefront of their brains somewhere along the birth canal:

“I dunno.”

Well, in the interest of raising thoughtful and considerate off-spring, I thought it might be useful to turn the tables and to stimulate a sense of empathy (through bribery, of course… at least initially).

So… STEP ONE: turn off the wifi and hide the remote controls right before your children arrive home. Trust me. This, in and of itself, is guaranteed to start a conversation.

STEP TWO: teach your children how to look into your eyes for an extended period of time (this could take some time, given their intensive societal screen-focus training, but it will be worth the effort).

Once they have mastered step two, they are ready to move on to STEP THREE: a list of training questions that you can formulate for them based on your own true life experiences. Remember, it is important for them to allow time for a response after each question and to continue eye-contact throughout. (You may want to suggest that there could be a quiz at the end of the session which will determine the reappearance of the wifi… or not). Once they have mastered their training questions, you can find creative ways to give additional rewards for original and extra-thoughtful inquiries. Here are some examples of possible questions for them to ask:

  1. What made you smile today, Mom?

  2. Did you find that thank you note I left for you? (this one requires some obvious preparation beforehand and may be saved for more advanced levels)

  3. Was my room clean enough when I left this morning?

  4. Were you able to relax a little while I was at school?

  5. May I make you some tea? (also for older, more advance students)

  6. Would you like a hug without an eye-roll?

  7. Did you see any of your friends today?

  8. What was your favorite part of the day? (to which you should initially answer, “you asking me these questions”… in order to stimulate repetition. This won’t be difficult… because it most likely will be.)

  9. Is there anything you need me to do before I start my homework?

  10. May I help out with dinner? (this is to be substituted in for the usual “what’s for dinner?”)

Now, before you get upset with me for using bribery (and if you are already upset… walk that sht back a tad): rewards have always been a good way to teach desired behaviors. (Belsky, Jay PH.D. “Rewards are Better than Punishment: Here’s Why. Psychology Today. n.p 9/25/2008. August 24, 2019. <https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/family-affair/200809/rewards-are-better-punishment-here-s-why>) … to cite just one of many articles.

And before you bring to my attention the fact that the initial removing of wifi and remote controls could, in fact, be seen as a punishment: touché. You got me… Or, did you?

Could this, perhaps, simply be the silly, sarcastic rantings of an over-tired mother who was awakened in the wee hours of the morning by a ten-year-old practicing “Our Country Tis of Thee” as a way of dealing with his latest nightmare about school..?

“It’s ‘Land of the pilgrim’s pride’! Now, pleeeeaaaase go back to bed, Sweetie.”

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