I love asking my children questions. You never know what will come out of their sweet little mouths. As simple as Ellen’s bedtime routine sounds, her questions open up the door of communication between she and her son and create a life-long dialogue.
I had an adorable conversation with my three year old right before he went to sleep tonight. In fact, I have a pretty adorable conversation with my three year old almost every night before he’s off to bed, so I thought I’d share what we talk about. In addition to warming my heart, these conversations, I believer, are paving the way for future communication.
As part of our bedtime routine, I ask Charbel three questions each night:
- What is something that made you smile today?
- What is something that made you cry today?
- What is something that you learned today?
With these three questions, our little son opens his heart to me each evening, and starts smiling and laughing all over again as he remember what he enjoyed that day, gets more serious as he talks about something that made him sad, and feels proud when tells me what he learned.
Although this is a very simple conversation, it serves several purposes:
It is helping our sons learn how to communicate. Our two year old is just starting to participate in this discussion as well, and has already been learning about communication by listening to Charbel and I talking together. Sharing is something normal in our family. I want our kids to feel comfortable coming to us later on in their life when they find something challenging, need a shoulder to lean on or just want to share a success. That won’t come out of nowhere. Teaching our children when they are very young that sharing as a family is something good and normal builds a sense of security and trust that will help keep communication pathways open later on.
It shows me, as a mother, how my son viewed the day. Sometimes he brings things up that I wouldn’t have expected, or tells me something about how he felt that surprised me. It helps me, as a parent, to know him better, and to enjoy and share even in moments I might not have been present for. It also tips me off if something my husband or I said/did was misinterpreted.
It’s one more way of helping my child become a life long learner by reflecting each day, albeit briefly, about something he learned that day. This also gives me the opportunity to teach him that even the “negative experiences” (things that made him cry) don’t have to end negatively. Mistakes are normal, and the lessons we learn from them are valuable.
It’s helping my child learn how to pray spontaneously. After he shares about things that made him happy or sad, we take a moment to thank God for the happy things and ask him to help us or forgive us for the tough moments.
It helps Charbel practice expressing his thoughts and emotions verbally.
Finally, it’s something we both love that involves laughter, snuggles and growth, and brings us closer together each night. On his own last night, after answering the questions, Charbel looked at me and said “Your turn, Mommy! What made you happy today?”. So it goes both ways now!
If you don’t already have a similar routine, I highly suggest incorporating these questions into bedtime prep. This conversation with my kids is one of my favorite times of the day because it lets us really CONNECT and helps my sons go to bed happily and peacefully.