Skip the boredom and get the conversation started with these engaging questions.

All parents have been there. We're tired, yet we want to engage with our kids after the school day. But we receive a quick, nondescriptive, "Fine," when we ask, "How was your day?"

Try these quick ways to debrief with your kids. These ideas can be done around the dinner table, in the car on your way to practice, on a nature walk, or while doing chores together. After your child shares, be sure you give yourself a chance to share, too. You both might just learn something new about each other.

And if you're the parent of a teen, give this list of questions a try!

Mad, Glad, Sad

Ask, "What made you mad, glad, and sad today?"

This question is easy to remember and engages thoughts of both positive and negative aspects of the day. Let your child respond with three things about his or her day. Engage in a deeper conversation about what happened, what he or she learned, or how hard he or she laughed.


Ask, "What surprised you today?" 

Our kids often share the basics of his or her day. If I'm being honest, I do it, too. This question helps your child think differently ... about something that stood out in his or her day. Your child might share about a pop quiz, a popcorn party in lieu of math class, or the way a friend responded. Feel free to ask clarifying questions and offer help if the surprise was negative.

New Perspective

Ask, "Do you think [Teacher's Name] had a good day today?"

Often, our debrief questions engage our children from only their own perspective. Though we can stretch their minds to see the day from someone else's perspective. Asking questions like this will help your child see the day's events through someone else's eyes. Be sure to follow up with "Why?" or "Why not?" to get a more in-depth look at the day.

Being Helpful

Ask, "How did you help someone else today?"

As with any of these answers, your child's answer could be a huge task or a super-small thing. Respond encouragingly to whatever answer your child gives. We all want to teach our children to look out for others and lend a helping hand. Celebrate what your child did for a teacher, a friend, or another classmate.

Do-Over Button

Ask, "If you had a magic do-over button, when would you have used it today?"

No day is perfect, and let's give kids the freedom to share both the highlights and the "bummer moments" alike. Whether it's a missed goal, interaction with a friend, or a poor job done on an assignment, identify with what your child is feeling. Offer help and ask your child what he or she could have done differently. Remember to share from your own day, too. Sometimes kids need to be reminded that adults make mistakes and would push a do-over button now and again.


Ask, "What part of your day do you want to repeat tomorrow?"

This is such a fun question. There might be times that your child created a situation that he or she would want to repeat. Or, the desired repeated event might be completely out of your child's control. Either way, take time to celebrate the moment and dream together if it could happen again tomorrow.

How do you debrief with your kids? Share in the comments below.