Once a week we try to sit one-on-one with each of our kids and give them an interview. We grab two kids chairs and sit face to face. We look at each other in the eyes and are fully present with them, with no electronics and no distractions. It allows each of us to practice listening and have a chance to ask questions. We structure it pretty similar to actual work interviews, except that there is no score at the end.
1. Introductory stage
2. Information from the parent to the child
3. Questions from the parent to the child (we mostly ask about school, and then home life)
4. Opportunity for child to ask questions
I usually ask the child if he/she has any questions in regards to things they have learned this week, or about anything
Is there anything else they would like to say?
I find that after school all we get from the “how was your day” question is “good”. So with this interview, they have our full attention, and we have theirs and they have nothing else to do, so they are better able to talk. We also give them a chance to give us feedback on our household so it makes them feel like their opinion is important. It encourages them to be honest and give us feedback on our parenting, rules and routines. Because they can see that we are receptive to it and that it’s safe. We come up with solutions and compromises together. They have a chance to give us suggestions for meals or activities they’d like. It makes them feel valued because they get to contribute to the meal plan and/or schedule for the week.
I find that especially now that we have 3 kids, the one-on-one part is really important. I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time being present while playing with toy cars, especially when I have other things to do. But by setting aside this one-on-one time to do (almost) anything the child wants, without distractions and electronics, I am able to be fully present with them, giving them my full attention. This time spent with them being fully present, even if it’s only 1 hour, is much better for them than playing with them all day but doing something else at the same time. When we play with them but are on our phones at the same time, we are not really present with them and they can feel it. That’s when you get the “look at this mom”, “look mom, I can do this”, “mom look...” x 1000. That’s when I realize; okay, I need to put away my own things for a bit and be present with them. All kids want is to be heard and seen.