1. Positive Bonding
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Some studies reveal that the benefit of eating together depends on how parents use the time to interact with their children and learn about their daily lives. If the time is spent grilling, criticizing, and other negative talk, we can readily guess that hurts more than it helps.Parents should focus on positive connections.
Use the time to help one another discuss upcoming assignments, problems, and deeper discussions. A study that correlated literacy and family meals also showed the content of dinner conversation made the difference.
Distractions of electronic devices decreased interactions and benefits. What boosted learning included complex conversation with explanations and definitions as needed and storytelling.
When one of our older children might mention rodents my husband or I would add, for the younger ones, “A rodent, like a mouse.” That helps a child feel they belong and can engage in the subject. The richness of the experience and genuine concern for one another matters.
2. Meaningful Conversation
Short one syllable answers and yes or no questions don’t build connections. Sharing stories grab the interest of listeners. Questions should fire up the imagination or dip into a person’s interest like if you could choose three places to visit, where would you want to go?
Or, for the baseball loving kid, ask, “Who do you think will pitch in this weekend’s game?” can launch a good discussion.
Parents on cell phones signals that family members are not important. Televisions running during meals prevent good engagement and stimulating conversations.
Meals can also be a times to talk about forgiveness, loyalty, or other quality you noticed in your child and want to praise. Bringing up a Bible story or something from a movie that reflects a good character trait helps children learn to discern good character traits.
A wholesome debate allows everyone to express different opinions. Jokes and humorous anecdotes can bring laughter, if they don’t poke fun at a family member. The goal is to share and engage family members while making sure children feel secure.
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