The following is by contributor Mariah Bruehl of Playful Learning.
How was your day at school? How many of us have asked this question to our children and received an ambiguous and uninformative response?
As parents we have an innate desire to connect with and understand our children, yet it can often seem difficult to come up with the right question at the right time.
The bottom line is sometimes we need a little help.
Family Conversation Starters
I have found that when you turn it into a game, children are often more willing to open up and take the time to ponder and thoughtfully answer the questions at hand. While there are a lot of innovative ways to bring about meaningful conversations, we recently tried a new (family friendly) take on the old classic game of spin the bottle.
Start out by preparing some questions and prompts. Try to incorporate some of the concepts you have been exploring as a family. Some hot topics in our household lately have been related to being courageous, standing up for friends, and expressing gratitude. Over time the conversation starters can evolve and correspond with the various social and emotional issues that come up during the course of our daily lives.
It is helpful to use these light-hearted family times to explore the bigger concepts and issues that may be harder to discuss when emotions are running high. That little bit of distance can create a safe (neutral) environment where children feel comfortable talking about the things that matter most to them.
Here are some of the conversation catalysts we used…
- Share a time in your life when you have been courageous.
- Share a time when you overcame a fear.
- Share a time when you helped someone.
- Share a time when you witnessed someone in your family help another person.
- What is something special about you?
- What is something special about another person in this group?
- Name three things that you are grateful for.
- If you could make three wishes, what would they be?
- What is one thing you could do to make the world a better place?
- Talk about a time that you have stood up for yourself.
- Talk about a time that you have stood up for someone else.
Print out the prompts that you created and put them in a bag or basket. There is something thrilling about choosing an unknown question that children get very excited about. Take turns spinning the bottle. Whoever the bottle points to is the person who chooses a piece of paper and responds.
It helps to keep in mind that these are just conversation starters. Make the most of each person”s turn by asking clarifying questions and sharing your own similar experiences. You never know what direction the conversation will take.
Children long to be listened to and the most valuable gift parents can give them is undivided attention, so go with the flow and enjoy!
More inspiration for family conversations…
- Family Conversation Starters by Beauty and Bedlam
- Family Dinner Questions by How Does She?
- Family Chat Topics by Real Simple
How do you get the conversation going with your kids?