Saturday, April 25, 2009

Power of the Dinner Table Ritual

It's come to my attention that very few families actually practice the art of gathering around the dinner table anymore. Ok, so most of my childhood dinners ended in arguing, fist-banging and my mother retreating to her bedroom, I still feel it is necessary to the mental health of families ever you define family. My family consists of me and my dog, but then again, there are no children present. I read recently that it is important to a child's wel-being to have at least 15 minutes of a parents undivided attention a day. That doesn't mean as the parent is arguing with them or attacking them for misbehavior, it means, asking questions about their day, checking in on home they are doing emotionally, academically, physically and with their peers. When the child responds, "everything is OK," the conversation doesn't end there. "What do you mean by OK?" should be the next question. Details, details, details. "What did you find interesting at school today?" Try not to ask yes, no questions, because you'll only get yes, no answers. Suggest your child help out with the dinner preparation even if it is a take out meal.
Be creative with your communication style with your child/children. Sit down and do a nonverbal drawing together about how you and your child's day was. All you need is a big piece of paper or small and markers. Each picks a color marker and take turns drawing images that represent your day.
When your down, talk about the images. You can learn a lot from pictures.