September 25, 2015

How to get your kids to talk during family dinner time - Conversation Starters for Any Age!
These are the actual cards we own - I bought for our family in 2009

Our family always tried to have family mealtimes - as in sit down together and share a home cooked meal as a family every evening. And even though Dad had to work that shift fairly often, the kids and I always had a set time and I worked hard (very, very hard) to keep family mealtimes a 'thing'.   When you are a parent working around the schedules of the whole family and that includes things like school work, music, dance, football, baseball, cheerleading, soccer, track and more... you know not only how difficult it is to continue to pull of family time - but how frustrating it is when the conversations goes something like this;

Mom:  "So, how was school today?"
Child:  "Fine."
Second Child:  "Boring."
Third Child:  "Same thing as every day."

So early on I started to avoid that sort of question and went to things like;

"So, tell me one thing you learned in school today."
"What was one really good thing that happened today?"

And for the most part that worked until it turned into answers like, "We got fries for lunch."

Then I changed it to;

"Tell me three things about your day."

And that worked pretty well!  As a matter of fact, the kids knew it was coming and would think about their 3 things to share.  AND even better?  We always had 'extra' kids at our house and even their friends knew they would be expected to jump into the conversation as well, and would have their 'three things' ready.

In order to mix it up a bit, I found these meal time cards in 2009 and bought them. 

The Meal Box: Fun Questions and Family Tips to Get Mealtime Conversations Cookin'

Designed for all ages, The Meal Box is comprised of 52 cards that feature a question designed to start conversations and get parents and kids talking. The reverse side of the card offers a practical tip to help parents apply the general theme of the question to their family’s life of faith or a short devotional type thought.

Sample question:   If you could build a private bridge or tunnel that would take you directly from your home to any place at all, what would it connect you to?

I have to admit that even though it got everyone answering questions and we learned a little bit more about each other, the kids started to groan when I would bring them out.  Ha ha.  As a matter of fact sometimes they would say;  "Can I answer the 3 things about my day instead!?"  HA!  So yes... in our house you had a choice.  The question card or tell us 3 things about your day.

And now that it's 6 years later and my 'kids' are all young adults and flying from the nest... that 'mealtime question' they groaned about has become a GOOD memory to them!  They all laugh and shake their heads now when it's brought up at holidays or other times we are able to gather together throughout the year.

There are A LOT OF VERSIONS OF THESE.   The one I bought (above) was one of the earlier versions but now there are so many available at local stores and online.

I found this one online and it has many different cubes (you buy each separately) and each follows a basic 'theme' of questions.  I really like this set and each cube has 135 questions!

 TABLETOPICS Family: Questions to Start Great Conversations
  • Questions specially designed to engage kids in the art of conversation
  • Perfect for mealtime or bedtime, use it every day
  • Fun mix of age appropriate questions range from silly to thought-provoking and encourage up-building conversation between parents and kids
  • Learn something new about your kids and even yourself
  • 4-inch acrylic cube with 135 questions

You don't have to purchase anything either - you can make these yourself! 

One way would be to write sample questions on slips of paper and put them into a vase or jar.  Keep the jar at the table and each night at mealtime, have someone draw the 'question of the day' from the vase.   

Or use card stock and cut out your own cards.

Design cards in your favorite editing program and print them out.

ANY way you come up with to inspire conversation with your kids, spouse and friends is a good one and family mealtimes are a great way to do it.   

Related products available to purchase through Amazon if you can't find them locally;
TABLETOPICS Family: Questions to Start Great Conversations
The Meal Box: Fun Questions and Family Tips to Get Mealtime Conversations Cookin'
Melissa & Doug Family Dinner Box Of Questions


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