Ideas and Activities Foster Understanding
"seek first to understand, then to be understood"
Finding ways to connect with your child can seem impossible in today's chaotic times. Here are 23 simple ideas to get the conversations flowing between you and your kids.
- Television. Let your child pick out a TV show for the family to watch one night a week. Be sure to watch and then discuss those show afterwards. Conversation starters: What was your favorite scene / character? Why? What was the message of the show?
- Music. Sit down with your child and listen to one of her favorite songs. Talk about why the song is a favorite. Share a song with your teenager that was a favorite of yours when you were young.
- Do Lunch. Invite your child out to lunch with you sometime soon. Keep the discussion positive. Resist any urges to lecture or criticize.
- Fridge Talk. Place news articles or magazine stories, interesting stories, quotes … anything relevant to life. Allow your child to do the same. This can be a fun way to create conversations for dinner.
- Plan an outing. Allow your child to plan a family outing. Let her choose the place. She should be responsible for organizing the details.
- Workout. Invite your child to go to a local gym or spa and work out with you.
- Out on the Town. Children often perceive that adults live boring, dull lives. Break this stereotype with your child by spending a night out on the town together.
- Music appreciation. Go to a concert. Afterward, talk about the music, the band, the whole experience.
- Give to Society. If you've never done a service project with your family, give it a try. Go on a mission trip or volunteer your family services to a charitable organization. You could visit a rest home, help out at the food bank, or visit a hospital-anything that helps other in need.
- Dust off your high-school yearbooks and let your teenager try to find pictures of you in them. Sit down and relate some of your adolescent experiences with your child as you flip through the pages of your personal history.
- Ask your teen for a copy of his school newspaper. Read it, choose an interesting article about the school or its students, and discuss it. Even though this activity may seem trite, it shows you care about his world.
- Small is beautiful. Do not neglect the small things in life you can do together-baking cookies, shipping, working on the car. Anything that interests your child and that you can do together.
- Family night. Pick one night a month (at least) for a family night, with games that everyone likes to play, or a special activity that includes everyone. Let your kids take turns planning it.
- Fun stuff. Have your teenager list on a paper all the things she has enjoyed doing with you. Then ask her to rank the activities from most fun to least fun and do one of her favorites.
- What class was that? An easy yet important way to demonstrate your interest in and support for your teen is to learn the names of all her teachers, as well as something about her classes. Then, instead of the usual how was school question, you can be more specific with your questions.
- Leave Notes. Get in the habit of leaving each other notes telling of your whereabouts. Kids are usually required to inform parents of where they are, but parents rarely tell their kids where THEY are. This shows mutual respect.
- Read a book. Go to a bookstore and pick up a book about today's teens. Then discuss some of the things you learned with your teen.
- Documentary. If you have a video camera, let your kids make a short documentary on your family that could be given to relatives as a gift. Let them interview members of the family and splice in some highlights from the past year.
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