Running through the same every day routine with little ones can become monotonous. You wake up, wake the kids up (or the other way around:) you get everyone ready, make breakfast and rush out the door. Then, the same every day routine kicks in after school…pick the kids up, drive home, make dinner, bath-time and then off to bed.
Well, the key to making this everyday routine not so bland is to spice up how you interact with your family. Although the routine remains the same, conversation with your children are where you can add some pizzazz to make those mundane moments feel more exciting.
Think about it! The same questions and most always get the same responses. Some of the best examples of these lack luster questions are, “how was your day?” or, “how was school?”, “did you have fun on the playground?” which usually gets the same old one word response (what I like to call robot talk), “good”, “fine”, “yes”, “no”, “uh-huh”.
This leaves no room for any actual conversation. In fact it puts up a communication barrier because it begins to feel like pulling teeth to get any more information out of them. You and your kiddos are left feeling disconnected from each others’ lives and often times this communication gap just widens as kids get older.
Conversation is defined as: The spoken exchange of thoughts, opinions and feelings. There is clearly none of that going on in the robot chat described above. The following tips will help you lay the ground work for your family to begin communicating in a way that lends itself less to robot talk and more to real, quality conversations.
How to have more quality conversations:
1. Ask Caring Questions that let your children know you truly care about who they are and how they feel.
a. Instead of asking, “how was your day?” try, “how did you feel today?”. This gets them in touch with their feelings. Emotional awareness is a great skill to have and the earlier they can understand their different emotions the better chance they have of being in control them. You may need to give them some examples so ask if they felt lonely? excited? proud? happy? or sad?
b. Instead of asking, “did you play outside today?” be specific about things. Take something you know that matters to them and if that happens to be the monkey bars ask, “how did you do on the monkey bars today?” Being specific let’s them know you are paying attention to things that matter in their world and therefore they feel they matter.
2. Gratitude Sharing – Before or after dinner have each person share something that they are thankful for that happened that day. Practicing gratitude has been shown to increase levels of happiness, energy, empathy, optimism and overall well-being AND opens the family dynamic up to allow for REAL conversations.
3. Discuss Your Family Values – This is often something that parents assume is subconsciously understood by what they model as parents and expectations they set for their children. The truth is that displaying the significance of your value system in this way does have an impact on your children but it is also super important to have a discussion about what your values are as well.
Family Activity: Have each member of your family write down something that they feel is an important value to have. Then create a Family Values Board and a few times a week have everyone share an example of how they carried out one of those values in their daily lives.
It may feel somewhat awkward to have these types of conversation in the beginning but that is totally normal. As a society we interact with each other on a surface level. Having truly meaningful and mindful interactions is something we have to cultivate and there is no better place to start than at home with our loved ones.
How do you develop quality interactions in your home? Please share your tips below!