Anyone who has kids knows how hard it can be to get everyone to put down their phones, enjoy each other’s company and have a good conversation with a meal. Fortunately, there are a few tricks parents can try to help their children ditch the “ums” and “I don’t know” and spark an engaging chat.
Talk about yourself
Like most other behaviours you want your child to adopt, you have to walk the talk. Or in this case, talk the talk. So be a good role model and avoid putting them on the spot by sharing something about your day, a weekend activity you’re looking forward to or a funny thing your co-worker said. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable - this will encourage little ones to be too.
Make it a game
Turning the conversation into a game is a great way to break the ice, especially on a night when no one is feeling too chatty. The glad-sad-mad game is a great for kids (and adults) of all ages, where everyone shares one thing that made them glad, sad and mad that day. Another good one is “would you rather?” Younger kids will love questions like “would you rather be a T-rex or a raptor?” and older ones will enjoy ones that are a bit deeper, like “would you rather go on vacation to the rainforest or a snowy destination?”
Look to the food
You’d be surprised how many conversation starters are right on your table – you can talk about where the food came from, what’s in season and even new recipe ideas everyone would like to try. If your kids show interest in how food gets onto our plates, encourage them to learn more about the science of agriculture. Food starts with research, and scientists use game-changing technology to help farmers improve and protect crops and produce food in an environmentally friendly way. Kids can meet Canadian scientists, discover their work and see how their research impacts us at agriculture.canada.ca/fields-science.