Growing up, we always ate dinner together as a family. I remember that as soon as my dad arrived home from work, we’d sit down to eat. This is something I’m grateful we’re now doing with our own family! We sit down to eat dinner as a family just about every night – there are times where special activities or late work nights get in the way, but almost all 7 nights, we’re eating together. I love this and am disappointed when it doesn’t happen because I know we’re creating great memories as a family with something so simple as eating together. Plus, it’s a wonderful opportunity to engage with the kids and have fun conversations!
Dinner conversations with children can sometimes be one-sided. Even with my kids being only 4 and 9 years old, they still have moments of not saying much. I imagine this will become a bigger issue as they enter their teen years, which is why we try our best to encourage conversations at the dinner table, even if we have to push them a bit to get them talking.
5 Tips for Encouraging Dinner Conversation with Your Kids
- Go beyond “How was your day?” I find that asking this open-ended question results in one of two answers: good or fine. Kids usually don’t elaborate beyond that, so we try to ask more specific questions about their day. For example, we’ll ask questions such as, “What did you guys read in class today?” or “What’s something interesting that happened today?” Usually that gets them thinking about their day enough that they’ll start to share more details.
- Talk about your own day. What better way to encourage conversation than by modeling it? Sharing about your own day helps your kids understand that as adults, we also have ups and downs in our days. My husband and I will often share what happened in our day, what we worked on, where we went, etc.
- Share the good and bad. We know that not every moment of each day is always good. We have moments of frustration, anger, sadness, or a variety of other emotions intertwined with the good parts of our days. It’s good for your kids to share those ups and downs as well as hear your own. Each night, we share our good and bad as a family. We call it our “rose and thorn” time (rose=good of the day; thorn=bad of the day) and each of us shares one particularly good thing about our day and one not-so-good thing.
- Get them to imagine. Asking questions that get your kids thinking is a great way to have a fun conversation at the dinner table! From silly questions like “If you were a superhero what power would you want to have?” to more practical questions such as, “How would you get food if you were stranded on an island?” they love having fun debating and discussing! Be sure to add to the conversation by giving your own thoughts to such questions; often times, your answers will inspire deeper thoughts from the kids.
- Ask about the people in their daily life. It’s likely that your kids are with other people for the better part of their days – teachers, friends, and coaches – they all interact with our children regularly! Asking your children about those interactions or what’s going on with their friends can often provide a peek into your child’s daily life. A lot of times in sharing about others, it opens the door for further conversations.
I hope these ideas for how to encourage conversations with your kids at the dinner table help your family share more with each other! Remember, conversations can be thoughtful, informative, or just plain silly, but the important thing is that dinner table conversations will leave a lasting impression for your kids.
What other ideas can you share for encouraging dinner conversation with kids?