Each child is different. There are kids who are naturally social, outspoken, confident and talkative. And there are kids who are more reserved, introverted and quiet. I have both kinds in my family. Having both types creates good balance within the family. Dinner table conversations are generally dominated by the outspoken ones, while the reserved one is happy to listen. So why did we devise this Family Conversation Starters Jar then?
Well, as the years went by, this reserved child did poorly in class discussions and group activities. Her teachers noticed that even when she was 99.9% sure of an answer, she wouldn’t raise her hand to speak in class, because of that .1% chance that her answer might be wrong. In other words, she feared speaking out, because she disliked making mistakes and she worried about what others would think of her opinions.
Thank goodness for such caring teachers, because we were given tips on how we could help our daughter overcome this fear at home. She suggested we encourage her to share her opinions, to tell us stories and to share each others’ mistakes. All this to reinforce that her opinions matter and that making mistakes is a part of life.
We have dinner together as a family every night. So we decided to have these conversations and stories during dinner time. And so Family Conversation Starters Jar was born. The beauty of having these conversations within the family is that it’s held in an environment that she trusts. She is comfortable with family and knows she will not be judged by the people who love her. So, in other words, it made good practice ground for speaking her mind, sharing her opinions and risking saying something wrong.
Family Conversation Starters Jar
To start our Family Conversation Starters Jar, I wrote down a 82 questions or topics that I thought would be interesting conversation starters for my family with kids ranging from ages 4-10. Some were simple questions like ‘What is your favorite color and Why?’, so that even my 4-year-old can contribute to the conversation.
Some questions were silly and fun, like ‘Why is slime green?’ or ‘Why did the chicken cross the road?’
And some questions are meant to give us a peek as to what’s in their hearts and minds, such as ‘What are you most thankful for?’ or ‘Tell us about something you did that you are sorry for.’
Some questions might extend their minds and make them think out of the box: ‘If you were elected President, what is the first thing you would do?’ or ‘If you had the chance to go to outer space, where would you go?’
Most of the deep questions focus on enhancing their virtues (kindness, love, empathy, generosity). But there are a few questions that might have them recall a time when they were sad or angry. Through these conversations, we not only get a glimpse of what’s in their heart, but we are also able to help process these feelings in a trusting environment.
Family Conversation Starters Printable
So, if you’d like to create your own Family Conversations Jar, feel free to download our Free Family Conversation Starters Printable <<< Click on this link to get the Free Printable.
Cut them out. Then put them into your very own Family Conversation Starters Jar.
Create your own Family Conversation Starters Jar
And if you’d like to replicate the jar I made, here’s how I did it:
Clean out an empty pasta sauce or mayonnaise jar. Apply mod podge. Stick on any decor you’d think would suit. I wrapped our jar with scrapbook paper first. Then put a piece of newspaper cut out on top, along with some ribbon. Embellish with lace, ribbons, doilies. Get creative!
When you’re done decorating, apply another layer of mod podge. Mod podge acts like a glue and as a sealant as well. So coating the finished product with a layer of mod podge helps protect the decor.
Every dinner time, 1 child would pick out a piece of paper from the family conversation starters jar. And we would take turns sharing our answers.
This proved to be a great exercise for my reserved daughter, who started to open up to us during dinner time. But it was also good for the outspoken ones, because they learned to take turns in speaking. And more importantly, they learned to respect the person talking, to allow even the reserved child to share her own opinions and stories. In turn, the outspoken kids learned to listen too.
Dinner Time Conversation Starters
Through this Family Conversation Starters Jar, we get to know our children that bit more. But even better was that the kids also get to know us, mom and dad, more as well. We too share our memories, our happiness, our sadness, our likes and dislikes, and our mistakes.
The kids have since added their own questions to our jar. This Family Conversation Starters Jar has been a huge success in my family. The kids look forward to picking out their questions/topics from the jar. We’ve been getting interesting and funny answers. We all just love it.
Isn’t this a simple yet effective way to get family conversations going in the dinner table? Would you create a Family Conversation Starters Jar? What questions or topics would you like to add to this list?