If you are having trouble getting conversations going with your kids, try one of these games. Not only will you make mealtime more entertaining, you’ll also strengthen your relationship with one another.
A variety of family games to play at dinnertime
1. Two truths and a false. This game appeals to my kids’ imaginations, and I usually learn something new about their day that they forgot or neglected to tell me. To play, go around the table and take turns sharing two events that happened that day and one that did not. Who can guess which one is false? For example, “I got a B on my spelling test. I saw a goat at school. I sat with Gina at lunch today.”
2. Get creative. Christie Zemencik, a mom of older kids, says she covers the table with butcher paper and puts crayons out. “My girls draw or write random things that usually lead to conversations about why that was on their minds,” she says.
3. What are your rose, thorn and bud? Many families discuss the ups and downs of the day to get the conversation rolling. My 9-year-old son introduced me to this conversation starter: The rose symbolizes the highlight of your day, the thorn is the most frustrating or worst part of the day, and your bud is what you look forward to most the next day.
4. Conversation in a jar. When Karen Conklin’s children were ages 9, 7 and 3, she created a jar with dinnertime conversation starters on strips of paper. “An example is ‘Name two people who made you smile today and why,'” she says. Her children enjoy adding conversation ideas to the jar, too.
5. Table topics. Julie Melchior, says that her tweens and teens played a game with a pack of Christmas-themed conversation questions. Each night during the holiday season, the family selected a card to discuss.
“The kids couldn’t wait to sit down and get the cards passed out,” Melchior says. “It was so interesting for my husband and me to listen to their answers and hear what they remembered from their past holidays. It gave everyone an opportunity to share and listen, and we talked about things that probably wouldn’t come up in normal dinnertime conversation.”
Why these family games to play at dinnertime is important
Why family mealtime matters. “The union of a meal together fosters feelings of warmth, love and belonging,” says Jessica Velazquez, a healthy living director with the YMCA. “It promotes communication between family members and provides an opportunity for parents to give special attention to their kids.”
Eating dinner together also provides parents with a valuable opportunity to model basic, face-to-face social skills and etiquette, skills that are increasingly important to develop in an era where much of our children’s communication is conducted through technology.