Bringing back the family dinner hour is a lovely way to reconnect with those you love most. One of the lessons from the pandemic is how important it is to cherish moments like these with your clan.
However, awkward silences between forkfuls can make everyone a bit uncomfortable. How to engage your loved ones in pleasant banter? Try these nine conversation starters with your family.
1. Tell Me About Your Day — in Detail
How many of your conversations start like this: “How was your day?”
That’s it. That’s the discussion. It isn’t very enlightening, is it?
Instead, ask them for more detail. Pretend you’re a reporter and use the 5W’s and an H, inquiring, “Who did you play with today? Where did you sit for lunch, inside or outside? How did you feel about that pop quiz your teacher gave you?”
Use their answers as starting points for deeper conversations. For example, if your child reports feeling panicky about that pesky surprise test, use it as a teachable moment to discuss self-soothing strategies like deep breathing.
2. What Is the Most Interesting Thing About You?
Your children are unique human beings, not mere extensions of you. How often do you treat them as such?
Discover more about your little ones and help them with their self-esteem by asking them what the most interesting thing about them is. If they struggle to name anything, help them focus on their strengths by reminding them of all they do well. You might say, “You scored more goals than anyone during soccer practice,” or “what about that picture you drew in art class?”
3. What Is One Goal You Hope to Achieve This Year?
Children also get a self-esteem boost by setting and achieving goals like adults. Ask them what they want to do — and use this conversation starter to introduce strategies for attaining it.
For example, let’s say your child says they want to make the soccer team this year. How can you transform that into a SMART goal? Help them break the process down into meaningful, time-bound steps, for example, mastering how to kick five goals in a row from ten feet away.
4. If You Could Be Any Animal, What Would You Be?
Hey, it’s okay to have fun with these questions! Getting to know more about those you love most is what it’s all about.
Follow up your question with “why?” Perhaps your child wants to be a dolphin to swim in the ocean blue or a bird to soar in the skies. Who knows? Maybe your inquiry will kick off interest in a pilot career.
5. If You Could Take a Trip to Anywhere, Where Would You Go?
You don’t necessarily have to add your child’s answer to your vacation itinerary — although it can serve as inspiration. Don’t be surprised if their first response is a visit to the world’s most famous mouse.
However, you can also steer the conversation toward a getaway you can afford. Why not follow up by asking what sites they’d most like to see in your state? Plan a road trip for your next day off and visit that amusement park or nature center you’d always said you should.
6. If You Could Be the Best at One Specific Skill, What Would You Want It to Be and Why?
Your child’s answer can reveal a lot about their passions. For example, if they respond with soccer, you know they have a love of the game.
Follow up by asking them what they plan to do to improve their desired skill. Use this discussion to inspire a growth mindset. Remind them to replace the words “I can’t do it,” with “I can’t do it — yet” to challenge them to push through obstacles.
7. What Makes You Feel Loved? Describe How Someone Could Show You They Care
Do you know your child’s love language? While they might be too young for romantic involvements, everyone has a preferred style of receiving affection.
According to Dr. Gary Chapman, the five love languages are physical touch, acts of service, receiving gifts, words of appreciation and quality time. If your little one responds, “when mom hugs me,” to this question, it’s a sign they value physical touch — if they say, “when dad bought me new sneakers,” it’s probably receiving gifts.
8. If Someone Gave You $1,000 Right Now, What Would You Do With It?
Did you know that children form much of their attitude about money before entering school? Help them cultivate a positive one with this question.
Many children might say they want to buy a cherished toy. However, others might mention helping with the family bills or assisting a struggling friend. Encourage that compassion.
9. What’s a Cause You Feel Strongly Enough About to Advocate For and Why?
Children aren’t immune from the world’s problems — think about what those growing up in war zones have to endure. That means they’re also able to form attitudes about making things better. Encourage this spirit of community stewardship.
Better yet, help your child get involved in a cause they support. It allows them develop positive social skills by working with others toward their goal.
Conversation Starters to Try With Your Family
Family dinner time is a fabulous way to bond. However, it can feel awkward if all you hear is the clinking of forks against plates.
Try these conversation starters next time you sit down with your family. You’ll learn more about each other and deepen your bond.
Photo by Alex Qian from Pexels