Dinner is one of the most important times during the day that you can spend talking with your children and learning more about them. But, if your children are like mine, they usually have one or two word responses to questions. How was your day? “Fine.” Did you do anything interesting at school? “Not really.” And, I have to ask everyone to put away their cell phones so that we can actually focus on talking. Every once in a while, however, I observe someone sneaking a peak at a cell phone under the table.
What can parents do to encourage stimulating discussions with their children during dinner time? Many experts agree that making dinner a regular ritual is important. Children need order and regularity in their lives, so parents should plan to have regular dinners with them most days of the week. Another recommendation is to ensure that all devices are turned off. Everyone at the table should be focused on listening and talking to and with each other. No cell phones, tablets, computers, or televisions should be on or at the dinner table.
Experts also recommend to plan ahead so that you have good questions and conversation starters, and not to ask the same questions each night. Change it up a bit. Make it fun. Ask questions about a grandparent’s heritage or the funniest thing that happened that day or the grossest thing they have ever eaten or what is their favorite song and why. The questions are unlimited. It takes your commitment as a parent to think and plan for these conversations during dinners with your children and see them as special opportunities for everyone to learn about each other.