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2 Your Well-Being: Communication for a successful school year

Some children will open right up about their day, others may need to decompress or not want to talk about it at all.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Some children will open up about their day as soon as they get home from school while others may need to decompress or not want to talk about it at all. In today's 2 Your Well-being, we're talking about communication for a successful school year.

Dr. Jenna Mendelson is a licensed clinical psychologist with LeBauer HealthCare. She said communication really depends on your child. Some will almost feel the need to talk about their day while others may need some time to decompress and process before they are ready to talk. 

Dr. Mendelson said some children may have a hard time putting their thoughts or feelings into words and trying to answer open-ended questions could be overwhelming. For children who experience that, Dr. Mendelson said to start with smaller questions instead of how was your day. That could be, what did you do at recess or tell me more about your teacher. Feed them questions that will lead to more information. 

So, what if your child's day did not go well? Having a bad day is normal, but there are signs something more could be going on like bullying. Dr. Mendelson said signs include if your child is angry or irritable after school or even lashing out. Also avoiding going to school, like faking sick, is a huge sign something more is going on. 

Dr. Mendelson said another great way to communicate is by being an active listener, not a reactive listener. That means making sure when you and your child are having these kinds of big conversations, you're giving them your full attention. You can do that by giving them short non-judgemental responses like nodding or saying oh. That shows your child you are listening but you are not judging them. Sometimes when kids open up, adults have big, emotional responses to what they might be saying. Dr. Mendelson recommends not letting those feelings out right at the moment with your child as much as possible. That's where it's good to prepare yourself emotionally as an adult before we go into these kinds of conversations.