For years, experts have told us that families who regularly share dinner together enjoy meaningful connection and build family relationships as they gather around the kitchen table and discuss their day.
And yet, our family has found that meaningful dinner time conversation doesn't always happen naturally!
Food may gather us around the table, but it's easy for electronic devices, outside interests, sibling squabbles (and just pure exhaustion from the day) to distract us from the meaningful connection we're supposed to be sharing as a family.
And truth be told, sometimes we just don't know what to say to each other at dinnertime!
You get it, right? You want to make the most of family dinner time, but wow, it's not easy.
Can I share what's working for our family?
My husband and I have found that a few ground rules (plus some intentional tools to encourage family conversation) encourage our family to that meaningful family connection we're looking for.
We want your family to discover how to use dinnertime to grow closer too!
Here's what our family dinner time looks like (plus some great ideas for intentional family connection).
Our Family's 2 Simple Dinner Time Rules
1) Be kind.
Here's something that may surprise you: My four kids don't always get along!! They may all look alike but, oh my gosh, they can be so quick to argue and pick at each other's differences. Shocking, right?!
While we're continually counseling them on how to best show love to each other, we're especially sensitive to how they treat each other at dinner because we believe our family needs to come together in unity at the dinner table after being apart for segments of the day. That's why we ask them to please hold any arguing or disagreements at a later time and to focus instead on finding positive things to say to each other. If they are being truly disruptive with their comments, then they're asked to eat in the other room, or sometimes, to go straight to bed.
2) Be engaged.
My husband and I also do our best to not “check out” mentally but instead to model asking each family member about the happenings of the day. We do our best to engage with our kids (and with each other) by asking questions or sharing experiences.
However, it's not always easy to know what to say or what to share! After we've asked the “how was your day?” question, sometimes conversation can be at a standstill. What then?
That's what I want to share about next. We've found that these three awesome conversation-starter tools from Red Rock Traditions are a super way to keep meaningful conversation flowing around the family dinner table!
3 Awesome Tools (Plus 15 Ideas) to Encourage Family Dinner Conversation
As I give you a brief description of each of these three dinner time conversation tools, I'm also going to give you several ideas of how our family uses them to grow closer. I know you'll love these products from Red Rock Traditions… they're really fun!
This gorgeous wood “lazy Susan”-type dinner table centerpiece is a simple way to encourage healthy conversation at the dinner table. Along with a beautiful leaf inscription, this solid-wood piece has eight engaging conversation starters along its edges such as “Today I laughed when…” and “Today I remembered…” Because it can hold food, napkins or even seasonal decor, it's a natural part of the dinner table.
1) Assign one of the eight conversation starters on the Sharing Circle to a specific day of the week. Since you'll be left with an extra conversation starter (there's only seven days in a week), consider using this bonus conversation starter for a lunch time meal or Sunday afternoon meal.
2) Have each child take turns picking out their favorite one. You can do one or more questions in a meal, depending on how the conversation flows.
3) Gently spin the circle and choose to use the conversation starter that lands in front of you. Ask the same question to each person.
4) Noticing the direction where each conversation starter in the circle is pointed, have each person share something that answers the conversation starter closest to them.
5) Ask the person across from you a conversation starter of your choice from the Sharing Circle.
Want an opportunity to share a memory or even just a silly story? My kids love using these “Tell Me” Conversation Blocks! Using the large leather-wrapped cup, roll the picture dice and then use the enclosed card to decipher what each symbol on the dice means. Each of these symbols is categorized into one of four topics–Who, Place, Feeling or When–to serve as a fun story prompt. Use the symbols together to make one story, or use them separately!
1) Roll the dice for the person next to you and ask them to share a story or memory about one or more of the symbols on the blocks.
2) Roll all four blocks and share a memory, either from your childhood or of something you experienced together as a family, that's about all four of the symbols together.
3) Roll all the blocks and, based on the symbols you get, share a dream of something you'd like to do in the future (either individually or as a family).
4) Roll the blocks and share a really silly story using all the symbols (this is my kids' favorite!).
5) Play build-a-story by handing one block to four people at the table. Starting with the first person, each person rolls their block and tells a different aspect of the same story, building on the story of the person before them.
6) Roll two or more of the block and then, using a scrap piece of paper and a timer, have one person draw Pictionary-Style the image of what those two blocks together create. Everyone tries to guess what the person is drawing before the timer goes out.
Here's a fun spin (literally) on the “how was your day question”! This adorable, two-sided coin gives each family member an opportunity to share about the “up side” and the “down side” of their day. If the coin lands on the “up side,” they're encouraged to share something great that happened today. If it lands on the “down side,” they're encouraged to share something that could have gone better.
1) Have one family member toss the coin for the entire table. Whatever the outcome–“up side” or “down side”–is what each family member will share for that night.
2) Pass the coin to each family member and, one at a time, have them share both the “up side” and the “down side” of the coin.
3) Set a timer for one minute and pass the coin to one family member. Have him or her flip the coin and give either a specific “up side” or “down side” as fast as they can. Try to see how many coin flips (and “up sides” and “down sides”) each person can get in during that minute.
4) Set a timer for one minute and pass the coin to one family member. Have him or her flip the coin and determine whether the family will be talking about an “up side” or a “down side.” Then, set the timer for 5 minutes and quickly go around the table one-by-one, each person saying their “up side” or “down side” as fast as they can. Try to see how many times you can go around the table in those 5 minutes. Then, once the 5 minutes are over, go back around to each person and ask them to elaborate on one of those things they mentioned.
Win These Family Conversation Tools from Red Rock Traditions
Don't you love these tools?! They're a fabulous way to make family conversations around the dinner table easy and fun.
You can also enter to win them below!
Red Rock Traditions has graciously offered to give away ONE of these items to three different people! That means that one person will win the Sharing Circle; one will win the “Tell Me” Conversation Blocks; and one will win an Up/Down Coin.
Enter below! The giveaway is open until midnight PST on December 16!
Whether you enter the giveaway or not, be sure to check them out at the links above (what a great Christmas gift!).
Enjoy these tools that make it easy to engage and connect with the ones you love around the dinner table!
FTC Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post written by me for Red Rock Traditions.