Every day when I pick up the kids from school and again when I’m tucking them in at night I ask them the same questions. I often get one word answers and have to prod for more information. The questions are “How was your day?” (Fine), “What was the best thing that happened today?” (I dunno), “What was the best thing you did for someone else today?” (I dunno)
The answers they automatically provide tell me nothing and I let them know this. I wring as much information out of them on each point with more specific questions related to to the day. Sometimes it’s rather like pulling teeth, but I do it anyways because there is a point to every question.
“What did you do today?” Seems like I just want to find out what they did at school….but I usually already know from having spent the day floating around there in the background. My purpose to this question is to gauge what kind of mood they are in right now. If they are cranky/hungry/tired/etc they will focus on the negatives. If they are excited/happy/full of energy they will focus on the positives. Either way the next questions are important.
“What is the best thing that happened today?” This gives that negative mood something positive to focus on. It helps them remember to find that ‘silver lining’. For the excited child it helps bring down that constant string of words that don’t necessarily make sense in the order they tumble out. The words are put into a thought out story that follows (with two or three more to follow this), but can make them realize that the focus is important even if you’re excited.
“What is the best thing you did for someone else today?” This may be the most important question of the three. Whether you’re in a bad mood, a good mood or just a mood, it is important to try to make the day better for someone else. It can be something big like teaching someone else to deal with something they have difficulty with or something small like making someone smile when they’re not in a very good mood themselves. Even a ‘thank you’ earns a spot on the something good done for someone else. Once again this teaches them to find the ‘silver lining’ but it also helps to remind them that they have an impact on those around them. Knowing that I am going to ask them this question is also a motivator to do something positive. Since I do this every day, doing something for others is (hopefully) going to turn into a habit that will continue after I stop asking or start asking less.
So, how was YOUR day? What was the best thing that happened? And, most importantly, what was the best thing you did for someone else today?
No matter how dark the day, the sun is always shining somewhere!