Why You Should Ask Your Child These 3 Questions Every Day

by April Marie Gott Walker
Originally Published: 
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Between sports and activities, Scouts and meetings, work requirements and family obligations, it seems that the moments we have in meaningful conversations are sometimes few and far between. Gone are the days when we come home from work and talk as a family while the newborn lies peacefully on my child. Gone are the days when we gather around the living room carpet and watch a toddler scoot and grunt. We have entered a new season of life — and it is busy, and packed, and intense.

In the limited amount of time where we are together, I make it a priority to ask three meaningful questions. They are quick questions, so my children have no idea the inferring that can occur or the subtle hints I can pick up on. I never make them go into detail if they don’t want to, but I’m happy to listen when they do. I will never probe for more information, but I am a master at waiting silently to see if more will come.

Let me first start with what I do not ask. I hardly ever ask about a test score, a quiz, or anything academic. As an elementary school teacher myself, I assume my child’s teacher will keep me up-to-date on anything I need to know in that realm. It isn’t that I don’t care about grades and education. It is that I am their mom. When I am at home with my children, it is my job to be their mom.

I will keep them safe. I will love them. I will meet their basic needs. But there is also more that I need to do as their mother: I need to know that they are happy. We live in a world where our society, our neighbors, our fellow citizens deserve to know that someone is looking out for everyone. That no one is in this world alone. That someone will do more than just dig deep and ask the questions. That they will read between the lines and hear what is being said (or not being said).

The three questions that I ask each of my children every day, from the 2-year-old up to the 8-year old are as follows:

Who did you play with on the playground today?

What did you talk about at lunch today? What was the bravest thing you did today?

1. Who did you play with on the playground today?

What you can learn from asking this question:

Are they playing at recess?

– Do they feel like they are a part of a group when friends, or are they by themselves? – Do they consistently play with the same friends, or are they meeting new friends? – Are they running around and getting large motor exercise, or are they doing activities that don’t expend a great deal of energy? – Are they happy?

2. What did you talk about at lunch today?

What you can learn from asking this question:

– Are they sitting by someone?

– Are they having conversations? – Do they smile while recounting lunch? – If they aren’t sitting next to someone, how do they feel about that? – Are they scared in the chaos of the lunch room? – Are they happy?

3. What was the bravest thing you did today?

What you can learn from asking this question:

– Did they try something new?

– Do they take risks? – Is kindness in their bravery? – Is compassion in their bravery? – Are they proud of their bravery? – Are they happy?

Being a mom has easily been the most difficult job I’ve ever had. The sleepless nights, the constant worry, the anxiety of how it will all turn out in the end. But these three questions — they serve a purpose. They let me know when we’re “on track” and when we need to redirect. They are oftentimes a starting point to a bigger conversation.

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