Sitting down with your family for a meal is the perfect setting for quality catch-up time. But do you ever struggle to have a meaningful dinner conversation? Or do your kids respond to questions with one-word answers? Here are five great ways to get the chatter flowing and help your kids perfect the gift of gab.
1. Play a Guessing Game
Remember the old game show where celebrity contestants had to figure out which person was telling the truth about their occupation and which was the imposter? Try your own version of “To Tell the Truth” at your next meal: Go around the table and have each family member tell two truths and one lie about what they did that day. Everyone has to guess which are true and which one is false. What a great way to find out what happened at school without asking, “So, what did you do at school today?”
2. Choose a Rose, Bud and Thorn
Go around the table letting family members share their "rose" — a favourite thing about their day, their "bud" — what they are looking forward to tomorrow and their "thorn" — what they didn't like about today. This simple game gives everyone an opportunity to share stories about their day while revealing things you might not have otherwise learned.
3. Lead by Example
When you break bread at the dining table, start the dinner conversation by talking about the kind of day you had, focusing on the positive rather than the negative. If you’re enthusiastic, your upbeat spirit will likely be contagious and encourage lively reporting from even the youngest family members.
4. If You Could…?
No need for school, homework and grades to be the only dinnertime topics. Allow your kids to have the downtime they deserve by asking about their hopes and dreams, too. Take turns answering these thought-provoking queries: “If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?” “If you could time-travel and live in any period of time, when would it be?” “If you could drive a car, where would you take us?” “If you could have any job, what would you choose?”
5. Wild Card Topics
Here’s a great back-up plan for slow-conversation nights: Have everyone write down questions or topics that they’d like the family to tackle and slip the notes into a jar. (Visiting friends and family can add to the jar when they are there.) The next time you’re stuck for stimulating dinner conversation topics, just pull out the jar and dig in. Two sure-fire suggestions: What’s the grossest thing you ever ate? What was the best?