How to have meaningful conversation with your child as an African parent?

Most parents whether African or not are often at a loss as to how get quality conversation going with their young children. Some helpful ideas are shared in this report.


Photo of father and son walking in a garden.



Here is a common scenario in most homes around the world including Africa.


Child comes through the door, following a long eventful or not-so-eventful day at school. (For parents who communicate with their children in a language other than in English, feel free to put the context described in your local language).


Parent: *with enthusiasm* “Welcome! How was your day today?”

Kid: *shrugs with apathy* “Fine” *says inaudibly*

Parent: *insistent on getting more conversation going* “How did school go today?”

Kid: *still apathetic* “Fine” *again responding inaudibly*


There are better ways to get your child to have a meaningful conversation with you beyond “How was your day today?”


Without intent to be judgemental, some of the problems many parents have in talking with their children stem from:

  • Inappropriate timing and situation.
  • Asking non-specific or vague questions.
  • Failure to elicit specific account of the day’s experience.


Inappropriate timing and situation

In many homes, the conversation with kids are commonly initiated as soon as the child walks through the door from school or if later, in the kitchen or at the dinner table in the presence of siblings or other family members.

It is worth being aware that children like adults may feel tired after a long day at school and wish to rest on returning home. It therefore may be helpful to find other suitable times for meaningful conversation with your child.

Dinner time is commonly assumed to be one such suitable or perfect time and situation to chat with kids.

The idea is that family is together, and sharing and bonding can happen.

In as much as dinner time may feel like an ideal time and place for parental chats with kids, be mindful that your child may not feel comfortable being “in the spotlight” in such situation. They may feel too stressed or embarassed to open up about their day.

Studies have shown however that when children are in a one-on-one, non-threatening and less demanding situation like taking a ride in a car, walking the dog, or doing fun chores like gardening with a parent alone, they more often than not feel comfortable to open up and talk about their day.

So, it is important to make these individualized conversational moments happen with a non-judgmental, open and listening mindset if you wish to engage at a personal level with your child.


Asking non-specific questions

The common conversation starter like “How was your day today?” that parents direct at their kids is way too vague and non-specific. Such question line may pose considerable challenge to a child as to which of the many events in the day to talk about first.


Failure to elicit specific account of the day’s experience

A line of questioning of a child that fails to get the child to think through feelings and attitudes regarding specific aspects of the day’s experience before responding is a conversation killer.

For example, as an ice breaker, asking your child to rate his/her day on a 1 – 10 scale for fun or whatever (1 being very poor and 10 being the best) may be a good way to start meaningful conversation with the child. This enables the child to focus on a specific aspect of the day’s events with higher probability of an enthusiastic and clear response.

The more focused and specific you are about your questions, the better it will be to get a good conversation going with your child.


Here are some other specific-type questioning ideas to get you started:


For young children:

  • Who did you play with at recess today? What did you play?
  • Who did you sit with at lunch?
  • What was the favorite thing that you did today?
  • Can you show me something you learned how to do today?
  • What is the name of someone you played with today?
  • What stories did you/the teacher read today?
  • What song did you sing in class today?
  • What was one thing that you had problems with today?
  • What was something that made you feel happy today?
  • What was something that made you feel sad today?
  • What was something you did that made you feel proud of yourself today?
  • How were you brave today?
  • Did anyone at school do something silly?
  • Did you do anything new or different today?
  • Did you help anyone today?
  • Did anything surprising happen today?
  • What was the hardest rule to follow today?
  • Did anyone get in trouble today?
  • If you could change one thing about your day, what would it be?


For older children and teens:

  • What was your favorite part of the day?
  • Name a high and a low from your day.
  • What was the most unexpected thing that happened today?
  • Did everything go exactly as planned today?
  • What challenges did you face today?
  • What made you laugh today?
  • Did anyone do something weird today?
  • Who is your favorite teacher?
  • Who is your least favorite teacher?
  • Did you do something kind for anyone today?
  • What kind of person were you today?
  • What are you looking forward to about tomorrow?
  • Is there anything on your mind that you want to talk about?


Adapted from:  30 questions to ask your kid beyond “How was your day today?”


Also watch video and learn:

Video: How to talk with your kids about their day




Published: February 27, 2923





DATELINEHEALTH AFRICA INC., is a digital publisher for informational and educational purposes and does not offer personal medical care and advice. If you have a medical problem needing routine or emergency attention, call your doctor or local emergency services immediately, or visit the nearest emergency room or the nearest hospital. You should consult your professional healthcare provider before starting any nutrition, diet, exercise, fitness, medical or wellness program mentioned or referenced in the DatelinehealthAfrica website. Click here for more disclaimer notice.

Untitled Document