Here’s how a typical conversation with my kids on the way home from school goes, “so how was your day?” Response from my third grader, “Good.”
Response from my kindergartner, “Fine.”
And if I don’t press, that’s the end of our convo. The next 20 minutes we listen to music, the girls talk to one another, and that’s that. It’s not until we get home that my wife begins asking more questions that I hear stuff like, “our field trip was so fun!” or “Mommy, a boy in my class really hurt my feelings. He kept calling me names.”
I get it, my girls have a special bond with mom, and she can ask the same question that I do, and often get a much better response. That’s common. But I want to be UNCOMMEN! So we instituted a new game in our household that gets everyone talking and listening, and the best part is, Daddy made it happen.
We call it, “Q Time,” which stands for “Question Time”. Sometimes in the car, or often-times at the dinner table, we start it up like this:
One of the kids initiates in their best pep rally voice,”What time is it?!”
Then we triple clap.
The kids cheer, “Q Time!”
Repeat. Typically only once, sometimes obnoxiously loud. Always with enthusiasm!
The rules are simple. Whomever started Q Time picks the first person to share something about their day, good or bad. Then each family member can ask one question to discover more information. As a family we are all engaging each person fully, giving them our undivided attention, and asking them more questions to find out what made that issue so good (or bad) that they had to share during our most awesome Q Time. I’ve been amazed at how attentive a 9 year old, 6 year old, and 5 year old twins can be to one another. It’s also here that Mom and Dad discover if there is something we need to talk to our children privately about. Q Time is fun. It’s almost always fun. But if it’s not for a particular child, that often means there’s something they are really hurt by or embarrassed about, which gives me and my wife the heads up that one of us needs to follow-up. We’ve been playing Q Time for over a year, and have noticed the need to have just a few of those one on one conversations.
For now, the kids are pretty transparent with one another, and I’m just ecstatic that we are setting the expectation that we regularly share about our feelings and what influenced our attitudes and actions throughout the day. I didn’t really have that as a kid, but I’m determined to make it happen for my family. More importantly, my kids are determined to be more fully known. As they get older, I’m sure we’ll have to change the rules of the game, as I’m sure pep rallies will be reserved for high school football games. Hopefully we’re laying the groundwork now that can be carried over to another creative share time as they get too cool for mom and dad, sigh. I also pray that in the future, they pay it forward during their own family time.
Struggling to get your kids to speak up about their day, try making a game out of it. Come up with the rules as a collective, play consistently, modify as needed. Do something like this already, please share with @UNCOMMENapp #UNCOMMEN. We’d love to hear!
written by UNCOMMEN Executive Director, Dee Lanier