How was your day? Fine.

How did you do on your book report? Fine.

Would you like to have pizza for dinner? Fine.

Want to go beyond fine? Here are a few tips to get your child to open up:

Set an example. Talking about your own thoughts, feelings, needs, etc., guides children in ways to express themselves appropriately. Model healthy self-expression by discussing why you are feeling happy, sad, or angry, or use a feelings chart to make confusing emotions more understandable.

Create a ritual. Identify a time, whether it be at the dinner table or before bed, to discuss the highs and lows of their day. This may create opportunities for open-ended questions, nudging them into opening up about their experiences and emotions.

Seize the opportunity. As adults, sometimes we take time to process our thoughts, feelings, and emotions, and kids do too. Be available to listen when they are ready to share.

Surprise! Checked out? Ask questions or crack a joke that catches your child off guard, “if you could only wear one color for the rest of your life, what would it be?” or, “what did one eye say to the other eye? Between us, something smells.” You may get a funny look or half smile, but the response will always be more than fine.

Occasionally you may still get one-word responses and that’s okay! Continually showing interest in your child’s life is important to their growth and development.

For more ways to develop your relationship with your child check out: Tips To Connect With Your Child And Establish A Good Relationship - Marine Corps Community (usmc-mccs.org)

If you are looking for more information, visit Military OneSource for age-appropriate content as you continue to develop a healthy relationship with your adolescent. Don’t forget to check out your local EFMP and Child and Youth Programs offices for more resources.