One of the most common questions I hear when I speak at various schools and parenting conferences is “Dr. Karyn - how can I get my kids to talk? How can I have more meaningful conversations with my son / daughter instead of just getting the one word answers?” Well, we have the solution! I’m thrilled to announce that we have created a wonderful FREE TOOL to help foster meaningful conversations over the dinner table! As many of you know – for the last 10 years, Maple Leaf Foods has been a wonderful supporter and sponsor of the work I do for families. This year we wanted to do something different so we partnered with UNICEF to create a deck of cards called “Making Meals Meaningful” There are 2 decks of cards – one for parents of kids ages 5-9 and the other for teens 10-16. Each deck contains 50 questions that will generate thought provoking discussions around themes such as empathy, compassion, generosity, selflessness & acceptance.
The best thing about these cards is that ALL of the questions were created by kids & teens themselves (thanks to the many schools & camps who partnered with us on this)! To receive your FREE DECK OF CARDS – simply click here: http://www.drkaryn.com/makingmealsmeaningf ...
So how can you use these cards? I shared my thoughts about this on Breakfast Television earlier this week – but in case you missed the segment - enjoy reading below the following 3 tips to help make meals meaningful with your family!
Also, join me for a live chat on the Maple Leaf Foods’ Facebook page on:
December 5th from 9-10pm to talk about Making Meals Meaningful and to answer your questions!
Be sure to spread the word on this practical tool for families!
3 Tips to Make Your Meals Meaningful
(1) Create the Mood & Turn Off Distractions
Be sure to have your meal ready and table set so that you are not getting up and down from the table (which greatly inhibits conversation flow). Also, turn off distractions such as cell phones and teach your family that if your phone rings during mealtime –you will let it go to voicemail. Research tells us that for kids / teens to open up – they need to see their parents relaxed and emotionally / physically present! Finally, aim to have a minimum of 20-30 minutes for your meal. If kids / teens feel rushed, they will clam up!
(2) Explain “Making Meals Meaningful” (MMM) Cards
Explain to your kids that you heard about MMM and thought it would be a fun way to hear about their ideas and thoughts. The purpose of the cards is to encourage 2-way discussion and share stories so be careful NOT to make this into a 1 way lecture! If kids / teens feel safe, they will talk more. If they sense they will be lectured or talked at – they will shut down.
(3) Ask Which Kid / Teen Wants to Be the Leader / Facilitator
When you are sitting at the table, ask your kids / teens (whether they are 6 or 16 years old) who wants to be the leader / facilitator for MMM. The person in this role has 3 responsibilities:
(1) Choose the questions (depending on time you could answer 1-2 questions per meal)
(2) Ask each person around the table their thoughts on the question –the goal is to get everyone involved!
(3) Ensure that no-one is interrupting or cutting others off.
It may be helpful for a parent to be the first ‘leader’ so they can model to their kids exactly what the leader / facilitator does. However, after the first meal pass this role on to your kids. It gets them involved and provides a simple way for them to practice their leadership skills.