My Child Doesn't Tell Me What They Do at School

If your child doesn't tell you what they do at school, you should know that this is common. Why does this happen? How can we solve it?
My Child Doesn't Tell Me What They Do at School

Last update: 20 December, 2022

You pick your child up from school and want to know what they did all day. You’re interested in what they learned, who they played with at recess, if they had a conflict with a classmate, and if they liked their lunch. Some children love to share the news of their school day with their parents, but others are more reserved and their answers are rather monosyllabic. If you wonder why your child doesn’t tell you what they do at school, keep reading the following article. We’ll tell you what you want to know.

School as the first autonomous space for children

Children spend a large part of their day at school. It’s the first significant space outside the family context. That’s to say, it’s the first social institution in which little ones perform autonomously as individual and social subjects. Now, they fulfill a social role in a place with specific norms and codes.

Entering school marks an abrupt change in the child’s routines: It’s the passage from intimate life to public life.

Everything that happens there escapes the eyes and ears of their parents. They only receive information indirectly from meetings with teachers, and principal, through encounters with other parents, or from what their children tell them.

Regardless of the child’s age, the mere fact of being a student demands the establishment of autonomous relationships. With their classmates, with students in other classes, with their teachers, with administrative staff, and with the educational community in general. Therefore, they establish these relationships from an active and protagonist position.

A mother asking her child about her day at school.
Many children prefer not to tell how their school day went, which is valid. However, we must make sure that the reason isn’t due to some problem they’re experiencing there.

My child doesn’t want to tell me about their school day: Why?

We begin from the premise that school carries a very significant value in the construction of one’s own identity, beyond the home environment. Therefore, it makes sense that some children choose not to elaborate on their answers to the question about how they’ve been at school.

However, it’s important to make sure that their silence isn’t associated with some problematic situation they’re experiencing at school that they don’t know how to deal with. In this regard, it’s essential to pay special attention to their general mood and behavior.

When should we worry if my child doesn’t want to tell me about their day at school?

If your child’s a person who’s usually very talkative and outgoing, but all of the sudden stops talking about what happens at school, this should serve as a red flag. In this case, you can get involved to make them feel that they can trust you and, if necessary, request a meeting with their teachers.

However, if you’re not the least bit surprised by their terse communication, as you find to be typical of their personality, you shouldn’t worry. Remember that this is a stage of building their first autonomous bonds. Besides, they don’t have to tell you everything. However, there’s another possible reason that could explain their lack of dialogue: It’s not that they don’t want to tell you, but that you’re asking them the wrong questions.

A mother and her young daughter talking about school while sitting on the couch.
You can resort to certain strategic questioning every time you pick your child up from school and apply it in a respectful and natural way. However, it’s important that you accept if they prefer not to answer.

Strategic questions to encourage dialogue

How was school today? That’s too general and unspecific a question. So it’s not surprising that the answer is also general and unspecific. Here are some more creative ideas for a longer, richer discussion:

  • What was the most fun you had at school today?
  • What was the most interesting part of your day?
  • What was the most boring thing you did?
  • Did you feel bad at any time today?
  • If you were the teacher, what would you like to do in class?
  • What was the best and worst thing about your day?

When children prefer to keep information to themselves, we should respect them

Most parents are very curious to know what their children have done during the school day, which is understandable. However, it’s also valid if your child doesn’t want to tell you.

In these cases, it’s imperative not to pressure them to talk, much less assume that they should know absolutely everything that’s going on. This only hinders trust and hinders fluid communication. Children will be more willing to talk as long as they perceive the dialogue with their parents as safe, free, and empathetic.

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  • Rodriguez, M. (1997) La escuela. Primer espacio de actuación pública del niño.  Educación y ciudad, ISSN-e 2357-6286, ISSN 0123-0425, Nº. 3, 1997, págs. 8-19.

The contents of You Are Mom is for educational and informational purposes only. At no time do they replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment from a professional. If in doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.