Poppy went off to “big girl school” this year and it’s left me feeling a bit like I don’t know what’s going on in her world. Which is a pretty scary thing considering she’s only four. Imagine how I’ll feel when she’s fourteen?!
Have any of you seen the BBC2 documentary Girls on the Edge? It follows three girls who at the time of filming were in secure mental health facilitates in the UK. Of the many things that struck me while I was watching (it was very well done, you should watch it if you haven’t already) was that all of the parents felt like they were struck completely unaware by what their daughters were going through. Wow, did this hit me hard.
It led me to start thinking about how I engage with Poppy and how I will engage with Tallulah when she is older. It’s really important to me that they feel comfortable sharing (both the good and the bad), asking questions, and letting us into their lives. These habits, and the bond that we are building now, will lay the groundwork for the relationships that I have with my girls as they get older.
I’m big on practical solutions and what I’ve come up with is this: fifteen thoughtful questions to spark kid’s interest and get them talking + some of these are great openers for important conversations!
What’s going on with your friends? This one shifts the focus away from them, and so is likely to get them talking. Plus you get the added benefit of some insider info on the people they are spending their time with.
Do you need help with anything? This one is my favourite, and probably also the most important. Come on, we all know how hard it can be to ask for help – and we’re adults! *note: my oldest is only four now but I can see this question (and the one above) being MEGA important as she gets older and her relationships and challenges get more complicated.
What games did you play at recess (playtime)? This one is just for fun but can be a great way to find out something they did during their school day. It can also lead into finding out more about what generally goes on in their school.
What was the nicest thing that you did for someone else today? It’s always good to grab at the chance to big up the importance of kindness.
Does anyone in your class have a hard time following the rules? I don’t know about you but I’m always really intrigued to know the dynamics of the classroom, and how little eyes perceive things. In my opinion, not following the rules can sometimes be a good thing – but the situations where this is appropriate should be talked about. Here is your chance!
If you created an animal what would it look like? This is intended to be a silly one, although I did hear about a “really stomp-y with horns” animal the last time I tried to distract Poppy from her anger with this question, so it can be a good way to chat about feelings too.
Which toy would you keep if you had to get rid of all of them but one? Maybe you can encourage them to try something new, or at the very least, a toy they’ve forgotten they have. In the past I’ve also used this as a way to tell Poppy that all kids aren’t as lucky as she is, and that some children don’t get to have the same experiences that she does.
If you could make one family rule, what would it be? I love this one, but imagine if you had to follow the rule for an entire day?! A real glimpse into what life would be like if kids ruled the world.
When do you think kids turn into adults? Poppy’s current thinking is ten years-old, which I’m going to try not to over think because with that logic she must think I’m absolutely ancient.
If you could change your name, what would you change it to and why? In our house names change on a daily basis. Sometimes it’s due to creative expression, sometimes there’s more going on.
Have you learned about any countries that you’d like to visit? Get that travel bug in them early.
What do you like the most about yourself? It’s never too soon to start teaching self-love.
What do you like the most about __ ? Insert the name of your child’s best friend, sibling, or a random acquaintance. Searching out positivity and the beauty in others is a habit I’m quite keen to encourage early on.
What makes someone a good friend? You really can’t overstate how important healthy friendships are. That being said, being a good friend isn’t a skill that you’re born with.
What do you think is the best way to calm down when you’re upset? I have very vivid memories of being a child and finding it difficult to understand and manage my emotions, and it’s something that I’ve always promised myself that I would put a lot of energy into helping my girls with.
I’d love to hear the responses you get from these questions, and if you have any other interesting conversation-starters let me know. I’ll credit you and add them to this list!
*Some of these questions are mine and some I’ve pulled from Parent.co (which is definitely worth checking out if you haven’t already).