The reason you are hearing “it was fine” or “oh I don’t know”
Based on research and advice from numerous parenting experts and PhDs in child development, the reason you usually get a vague response from your child when you ask them “How was your day” is because this question can actually be too big or too broad for your child. They have just had a long day at school interacting and learning new things, and by the end of the day they walk away from school mentally drained. As a parent, you’re always excited to ask them about how it went, what they did, or who they met but the fact of the matter is 9 out of 10 times you’ll receive a response like “I don’t know” or “it was fine.”
While this can be frustrating to many parents, there are alternate ways that you can rephrase this question in order to easily encourage your child to respond and have a conversation about their day.
How to get them to respond with insightful answers
According to Dr. Siggie Cohen, a child and family psychologist who specializes in child development, the solution is actually quite simple: ask more specific questions. This helps your child break down their day in a more detailed manner that is easier for them to process and respond, regardless of their mental fatigue. Some example questions that Dr. Cohen recommends to parents are “During snack time, who did you sit next to?”, “Did your teacher say something funny today?”, or “What was your favorite part of today?”
While these questions are not going to tell you exactly how their day was, it does open the dialogue between parent and child to ask more follow up questions and have a better conversation about other specifics of the day! Most importantly, this breaks the same, repetitive dialogue that your child hears every day after school and encourages them to share smaller unique details with you on the car ride home. No child wants to come home to hear the same mentally taxing question of “How was your day” every single day, so its time to switch it up and ask those specific questions!