just a mom figuring it out one day at a time

A Technique to Communicate Better with Your Kids

School is now over for the summer, but does this sound familiar?

“How was school?”

“Fine.”

“Anything happen today?”

“Nope.”

What is worse than this interchange? Hearing from another parent that their kids tell them everything.

Recently I sat chatting with another mother while our girls were in their gymnastics class. We were discussing school and things that had happened when she shared news, albeit minor, that her son—a classmate of CJ’s—had shared with her.

I guess the blank expression on my face gave away the fact that this was the first time I had heard this information. To which she said, “CJ didn’t tell you?”

With a continued blank look and raised eyebrows I responded, “Yeah, uh, no.”

“Oh, my kids tell me everything.” She said, in the direct way that I love about her.

And I cringed.

My friend is a down to earth straight shooter from New Jersey who has a background in elementary education. So when she says that her kids tell her everything, then I want to know what she does to get her kids to communicate with her.  Having compared notes with other moms, I know I am not the first person to be met with single word responses to my questions.

What she shared with me was a really cool technique that she calls A Rose and A Thorn.  Each night at dinner they sit together as a family and share their “rose and thorn.”  The rose is something good that happened that day, the thorn something that wasn’t.  The thorn also serves a secondary purpose in that the child can confess something that they did without fear of punishment. Everyone participates, even the adults.

The rose, with its thorns, is a great symbol. Even on good days, things don’t always go smoothly. Sometimes you might run across one issue, or maybe it’s many, just like the thorns on a rose.  Conversely, no matter how bad of a day you’ve had, there is always something positive you can focus on, like the rose.  Call me goofy, but what I liked about it was that it would require my children to think about the events in their days. My children are pretty good at completing assignments.  If they know that they are going to be expected to share at least one rose and one thorn each night, then they will think about their days, organize the day’s events and get themselves prepared for the discussion.

I LOVED the idea.

So…my husband and I decided we would try it. To gauge how well it worked, I tried my normal after school interchange, like the one above, with my kids and was met—not surprisingly—with the same outcome.  That night at dinner, we introduced the Rose and Thorn.  At first it was a little slow, but then both KC and CJ got into it.

As the dinners, and months, passed, many roses and thorns were shared by all of us.  Knowing that the Rose and Thorn were coming at the end of each day, my children preemptively would have their day categorized and ready to share.  Then, as they shared the good and bad of each day, it often opened the dialogue to other things.

As a side benefit, my children also seem to be a little more sensitive to things going on in my husband’s and my worlds.  Now they are seeking to know how our days are, much more so than they ever did before.

All in all, I would say it’s a success. I recommend it to anyone who would like to get more than one-word responses.

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