5 Ways to Get Your Kids to Say Something (Anything!) at the Table

Real Simple readers share simple strategies to encourage conversation at the dinner table.


Keep It Casual.

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I’ve found, at least with my child, that asking a direct question puts him on the spot, and he will shut down. So we tend to open conversations with our own stories. —Leah Sawyer, Huntsville, Alabama


Play Games.

Our daughter made a game at school to play at the dinner table. She filled a bag with slips of paper containing a bunch of topics. At dinner, we take turns picking out a topic and discussing it. It’s one of my daughter’s favorite things to do at the table, and the game is easy to make. —Mary Voisey, Redondo Beach, California


Make ‘Em Laugh.

If there is a lack of enthusiasm, we ask what was one funny thing that happened at school that day. It usually starts the conversation, and then we go from there. —Alicia Gearhart, Queenstown, Maryland


Include Others.

It’s super important that we teach them to ask us about our day, to show interest in and empathy for others. Asking questions about the people in their lives—friends, teachers—reinforces the idea that others’ feelings are important. The first time my son asked his grandma, “How was your day?” I almost cried. —Kate Ball, Towson, Maryland


Get Details.

We ask who they sat with, who they played with at recess, what happened on the bus, etc. Specific questions are sure to get them talking! —Alex Dilzer Thompson, Exton, Pennsylvania