It is important to soak up screen-free time with your kiddos and use those opportunities to build on your relationships, learn about their thoughts and feelings, and have meaningful conversations that instill them with communication and critical thinking skills. One of the best times to connect with your children without smartphones and tablets taking centerstage is at dinner. Use your family’s mealtime to share about your days and better understand each other’s thoughts and feelings.
3 Conversation Starters to Use Around the Dinner Table
1. Mad, Sad, Glad
As the name of this activity implies, each family member takes a turn sharing one thing from their day that made them feel mad, one thing that made them feel sad, and one thing that made them feel glad. This activity is not only a great way to help your child identify, express, and understand the cause of their feelings but also clues you into their day and what challenges they are experiencing. Ending each person’s turn with something that made them glad helps to end on a positive note and touch upon what they’re looking forward to the next day.
2. Peak Pit
If you’re a fan of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, you may recognize this conversation starter! Similar to Mad, Sad, Glad, Peak Pit gives each family member an opportunity to share the high point of their day — the peak — and the low point of their day — the pit. This gives your kiddo an opportunity to reflect on their day and work through any challenges with family support, as well as celebrate any wins or exciting moments together.
3. Practice Gratitude
Thankfulness is a key value to instill in children — creating awareness for what they have. Spend time at the dinner table talking about gratitude and sharing what you’re thankful for. Remind your kiddos that they do not have to think of something extravagant, but that they can be grateful for the small and simple things — like a special note you left in their lunchbox, playing with a friend at recess, or waking up in a cozy bed. Encourage each person around the table to share something new each day, trying to not repeat their selections. You can incorporate this practice with a family resolution, like a gratitude journal or jar.
When using these conversation starters to engage your family at the dinner table, be sure that the adults are participating, too! Your participation not only models the expectation but also allows your children to understand that even as a grown-up, you face and overcome challenges and experience daily, joyful moments, too.