3 Short Bedtime Questions that Help Me Understand My Children

Every parenting book and magazine seems to point out the importance of having a bedtime routine to help children prepare to sleep, but my favorite part of our children's bedtime routine is the part that helps me understand who they are and what they value. You see, I ask the same three simple questions every night, but hearing their unique and changing answers has taught me quite a lot about their interests, perceptions, and personalities. It's also helped me understand some of the tough emotional situations that I couldn't untangle during the day. Here's what I ask (in French, but also included here in English):

1.    What activity or event did you most enjoy today? (Quel activité ou événement as-tu bien aimé aujourd’hui?)

Often my children choose an activity that I would have glossed over, or an event that seemed fairly ordinary to me. From their answers I gain a clearer understanding of which activities are meaningful for them.

  Breakfast in Bed by Mary Cassatt, 1897

Breakfast in Bed by Mary Cassatt, 1897

2.    Which moment was the most difficult? (Quel moment a été le plus difficile?)

The vast majority of the time, my daughter replies, “Nothing,” so out of simplicity I sometimes change this question to ask, “Was there a difficult moment today?” When my child brings up an event, I try to empathize, but often I also ask a few gentle follow-up questions so I can understand why an event was emotionally difficult. I hope that our quiet conversations about difficult moments give both of us insight that can make difficult situations more manageable.

3.    For whom would you like to pray tonight? (Pour qui voudrais-tu prier ce soir?)

In response, my children tend to pick a family member or friend whom they love, and I add prayers for those whom we know are in need. I hope our prayers together remind us to keep our eyes open to the needs of others, and our minds aware of the way God answers prayers.

  Hear my Dollies' Prayer by Mary Sigsbee Ker, 1908

Hear my Dollies' Prayer by Mary Sigsbee Ker, 1908

In addition, since we began homeschooling, I sometimes add a fourth question:

4.     What would you like to learn about tomorrow? (Qu’est-ce que tu aimerais apprendre demain?)

This question allows me to make sure our learning appeals to my children’s current interests. Interestingly, at their current ages of 3 and 6, my children's responses are always tied to science and the natural world.  “I want to learn about crystals,” my daughter says, or “I want to learn how water turns to snow.” Their specific questions shape our science curriculum and remind me that the world is intriguing--and our studies should reflect that!

Do you have a bedtime habit that you and/or your children love? What questions do you consistently ask your children?

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