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How to Have a Conversation with a Preschooler at the Dinner Table

My mom would probably say she isn’t a good cook.  I don’t necessarily think that is true, I think she had a tough audience (remember me? the picky eater), but regardless of her culinary prowess, every night we sat around our kitchen table and enjoyed a meal together.  That table still sits in her breakfast nook, and this summer I found one very similar for my kitchen!  It has already seen a fair amount of food messes, art projects, lego towers, and playdoh creations, but what I am most excited about building on that table is our relationship as a family.  I doubt my parents had read the research that correlates family dinners to children’s emotional and psychological well-being, but it was always assumed we’d all eat together.  

I am already laying the foundation for the same expectation in our family!  My son is 3, and is not necessarily a great conversationalist.  These questions though, always spark something in him, and help make meals much more enjoyable!


  • What was your favorite part of today?
  • What did you do well today?
  • What did you not do well today?
  • Tell me a joke!
  • If you could build/buy anything, what would you do?
  • Which character from ______ would you like to be friends with?
  • What do you love about daddy/mommy/sister?
  • What should we do tomorrow?
  • How could we be ______ like _______? (Brave like Superman, helpful like Paw Patrol)
  • Who could we help/bless tomorrow?
  • What should we do when we feel ______?
  • Is there anything big or small you want to tell mommy and daddy?

At this age, social and emotional development is the most important thing, so I like to work in as much of that as possible, and hopefully he will always feel able to share with us.  Of course, unlike in my day (ahem), we will have to deal with phones/devices at the table when he grows older, but we’ll lay down those laws when we get there.  Currently these aren’t written down and just exist in my head, but as he starts reading I would love to have these (plus more!) in a bowl or jar for the kids to select and read.  What about your family?  What other things besides family dinners do you do to foster this type of connection?


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