Busy schedules of both parents and children make it harder to have “family dinners.” But families may not be aware of the benefits that come with regularly eating together at the table.
Research suggests that having dinner together as a family at least four times a week has positive effects on child development. Family dinners have been linked to a lower risk of obesity, substance abuse, eating disorders, and an increased chance of graduating from high school.
Eating dinner together as a family provides the opportunity for conversation. This lets parents teach healthy communication without distractions from smart phones, television, computers, and mobile devices.
By engaging your children in conversation, you teach them how to listen and provide them with a chance to express their own opinions. This allows your children to have an active voice within the family.
Conversations at the dinner table expand the vocabulary and reading ability of children, regardless of socioeconomic status. Family dinners allow every family member to discuss his or her day and share any exciting news.
Use these tips to encourage conversation:
- Let all family members talk. Be an active listener and be sure your child learns to listen as well.
- Encourage your child to participate. Do not underestimate your child’s ability to hold a conversation.
- Discuss the child’s day. Express an interest in your child’s daily life.
- Discuss current events. Bring up news that’s appropriate for your child’s age.
- Conversation starter questions:
- What was the best part of your day?
- If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?
- If you could be a famous person for a week, who would you be and why?
- If you could have any superpower, which would you choose?
- If you had one wish (and you can’t wish for more wishes), what would you wish for and why?
- 50 Family Dinner Conversation Starters
- Kids love a round or two of “Would You Rather.”
- Would you rather drive a beautiful, sleek sports car that was unreliable OR an ugly, dented, rust-covered beater that never broke down?
- Would you rather never eat your favorite five foods again or ONLY eat your favorite five foods for the rest of your life?
- Would you rather communicate only with an Etch-a-Sketch or a Lite Brite?
- 100 Would You Rather Questions for Kids