1. What was your favorite part of the day? Start with the good. Find out what made your child's day special. Don't accept "nothing" for an answer. This is an opportunity to help your child realize even the smallest of diamonds in a rough day.
2. What was difficult about today? This opens up the conversation to discussing those less than perfect moments about your child's day. It seems the older children get, the more likely they are to keep mum about the challenges of their day. By opening up the door for your child to discuss the not so nice parts of their day, you are allowing them the opportunity to process their feelings and feel supported. This is also a great moment to brainstorm coping skills, problem solve, share a relatable story and give your child encouragement to tackle tomorrow.
3. What did you learn today? Whether it be a lesson of personal growth or intellectual growth, encourage your child to identify something interesting they learned that day. Don't stress about the simplicity of the information that is learned, it can be something as small as learning a that a new movie is coming out soon. The important thing is that YOU are learning what has caught your child's attention. Be sure to share a tidbit that you learned during your day as well.
4. What friends did you see/talk to today? Showing an interest in your child's peer group shows that you not only care about what is happening in your child's world, but you care about the individuals that are in their world. Adolescents may remain a little more reserved on sharing information on the friend front, but if you approach the question free of friendship judgment they will be more apt to share a little more of their exclusive social interactions.
5. What are your hopes/plans for tomorrow? Engaging your child in a discussion about plans for the next day is not only practical, but encourages your child to incorporate some future minded thinking. Having your child share their plans clues you in to what they have on their plate for the next day and allows you and your child to problem solve any scheduling conflicts. If your child is the more spontaneous sort, talking about hopes for the next day will clue you in to your child's dreams and can help stimulate excitement in your child for the possibilities of tomorrow. Ending your check-in with a question like this will also remind your child that even if the current day was not ideal, there's the potential to make tomorrow better.