By Sandi Schwartz
We all know the struggle that comes with having a meaningful conversation, especially when trying to engage with tweens. But great conversations are critical because they build family bonds. When children and parents feel connected, it fosters cooperation, trust, and understanding. That way, when our children are struggling with issues like stress, fear, anger, or sadness they will feel comfortable coming to us to talk through it.
Sometimes it can be quite frustrating to get the back-and-forth going. How do you get your kids to talk about their experiences, thoughts, and concerns? How do you create that special connection that allows you into their world?
Experts suggest that we make time throughout the week to spend together without electronics and other noisy distractions. This may mean eating together as a family, taking a walk together around your neighborhood, or chatting in your backyard. So sit back, relax, and enjoy building quality bonding time with your family with these clever conversation starter tips.
Lead by Example
Most of the time, parents need to start the conversation. As you serve dinner, share stories about what happened during your day. Focus on the positives and be enthusiastic. Having an upbeat spirit is contagious, and it encourages a lively response from the youngest members of the family.
Show Genuine Interest
A good rule of the thumb is not to ask or comment about anything that you do not care about because your disinterest is not only off-putting, but it shows when you are conversing about something you have no interest in. Showing genuine interest means putting the phone or laptop away and being fully engaged in the conversation. Besides keeping the conversation going, it helps the person in question to be more open.
Share Your Stories
Sharing your stories, adventures, or anecdotes with others is an ideal conversation starter. You can also tell them about an interesting movie you watched or book you read. Even if they pretend to be ignoring you, they are likely absorbing some of the conversation and appreciating your efforts.
Do You Have Any Common Interests?
Identify topics of interest that your family loves and be sure to engage your children around these ideas. Alternatively, you can talk about diverse subjects like cooking, vacation destinations, and pets. Ask your children what they think about having a new pet or their preferred vacation destination.
Discuss Your Favorite Topics
Everyone has something they can easily talk about without thinking about it too much. Ask your children about their favorite television show or book. Ask them what they love about their schools or friends. It is a friendly conversation starter that easily invites you into their world. Opening with an easy starter topic will flow into other areas that you were perhaps less comfortable asking about.
Be a Detective
Assess the surroundings around you and find something that holds clues to the family history, hobbies, or childhood memories. For instance, show your family members a photograph of the grandparents. Tell them the story behind the photograph and allow them to be part of the conversation by asking questions. Show them a souvenir, gifts, or remind them of something they did while they were growing up. Always use humor as an icebreaker.
The Guessing Game
Ask your family members to share two truths and one lie they said during the day. Let the rest of the people guess which one is true and which is false. It is a wonderful way of finding what happened during the day without asking the question directly.
The “If You Could” Game
After a long day of work or school, nobody wants to discuss stressful issues like finances, grades, or homework. Start a conversation that will allow the family members to have some downtime. Ask them about their dreams and ambitions. Ask thought-provoking questions that will challenge and excite their young minds. Some ideas include:
- What would you do if you had supernatural powers?
- If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
- If you could star in a movie, which one would it be?
- If you could meet someone famous, who would it be?
Get Personal, But Not Too Personal
Talking about the weather or your favorite cartoon character is alright, but the conversation topic should relate to and interest your child. Engage them in conversation starters that will help you learn more about them. This will create a path to more meaningful conversations. However, try not to get too personal. Do not ask too many questions about their personal relationships because that will likely just cause friction between you and your kids.
How do you get family conversations started in your house?
Originally from the Philadelphia area, Sandi Schwartz is a freelance writer/blogger and mother of two. She has written extensively about parenting, wellness, and environmental issues. You can find her at www.happysciencemom.com – where this article first appeared – and www.sandischwartz.com.