Tips for Good Family Mealtime Conversation

May 19th, 2008

“What did you do at school today?’’ is the usual question on my lips at the dinner table. “Nothing or I don’t know” is usually the standard reply from my preteens all the way down to my five-year-old. Picking my children’s brains about the happenings of their day is important to me. Where did they go? What did they learn? Also, who are they associating with and what values are they learning from them? These are all parental concerns that I have learned to address with good family mealtime conversations.

Sometimes as a parent, it is best to not be so direct. Some children tend to hold their fears, concerns and joys inside. A back door carefully opened in the spring will usually lead to a lot of fresh air. The same is true with family meal time conversation. Having a back door of traditional conversation during mealtime can bring forth some fresh news of about your child’s daily experiences. Here are some tips to help you create your own rewarding family mealtime conversations.

1. Talking competitively all at once just creates a loud noise. Have a standard rule that each child will be given a chance to share something about their day. Remind your children that it is good manners to not speak with their mouth full or to interrupt someone else.

2. During dinner, have a specific question which will invite each child to share more about the experiences of their day. For example; invite each child to share something that they did not enjoy about their day. This will often encourage them to share information about any worries or problems that may be on their mind.

Adults sometimes have a tendency to minimize a child’s problems. Instead, make a mental note about anything that your child is struggling with or seems to be sad about. Be sure to have a private talk with them later, away from other family members about actions they can take to resolve the problem. This type of parental guidance will help your child to learn step by step problem solving skills.

Also, sharing information about your own problem and the actions you took to resolve it will help them reflect on your standards and ideals. It will also help them realize that gown-ups have problems too!

3. Once you’ve shed some light on their worries and problems, let the fresh air in by sharing some fun experiences and laughter. For example; invite each child to share something wonderful that happened to them during the day and any funny jokes or experiences. You might share your own joke or funny childhood experience that will clue them in on the mysterious fact that you were once a child too. Laughter around the dinner table at the end of a long day is the ideal recipe for a fun family mealtime experience.

Find more Parenting Tips at childnparent.com

By: Debby Hoffer

Entry Filed under: Parenting Tips

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