How to Get Your Family Talking at Dinner Time

You know that getting the family together over dinner is important right? But if your house is anything like mine, talking at dinner time can be torturous…

We have kids at both ends of the chatterbox scale. Our son is a sweet sensitive soul. Attempting to chat with him brings to mind having teeth extracted.

How was your day? Good.
PE? Good.
Friends? Good.
Awkward conversation over.

On the other side of the dinner table is our gloriously extraverted daughter who barely draws breath. She can talk without pausing through the entire meal, completely oblivious to her quickly cooling dinner.

So how do you get everyone involved and interested in talking about their day?

Luckily a dear friend of mine shared this simple idea she calls three stars and a wish.

The concept is simple. Each person takes a turn to talk about three good things from their day and one thing they wish had gone better. They get to speak uninterrupted, and then everyone can ask questions. The speaker then gets to choose who goes next. This continues around the table until everyone has had a turn.

I’ll agree it felt a bit forced to start with. But as the kids got into it, it’s become more natural. I love that we all hear about each other’s day. And I love that everyone has a turn, and so learns the conversational art of sharing the air. The kids have learnt to really listen and to ask questions, to be truly interested in each other.

We uncover and celebrate good things we wouldn’t have otherwise heard about. Big milestones. Small special moments. It lets us into each other’s worlds, to see things through their eyes. So often the stars are not what I think they’ll be. Not the ice block bought on the way home but a kind word from a friend. A weird bug found on the footpath. Finally finishing a tricky jigsaw puzzle. A funny joke someone told them.

The wish also lets us hear the harder stuff. Something embarrassing. Something sad or upsetting. Mistakes and struggles. It lets us offload these emotional weights with sympathetic ears. When needed we can draw together and offer our combined love and support. Because, after all isn’t this what family is truly for – a safe place we can be ourselves?

It has made us all take more interest in each other. What really happens in Dad’s day? What makes Mum smile? Even the littlest one in our house is included. We each take turns to say something we loved doing with our baby boy, a cuddle, a bath, making him giggle. And what he would wish for – not to poop in his pants according to his big brother!

And there’s a lovely flow on effect beyond the dinner table. I often hear questions the next day asking how something went or what happened next. And so we stay more connected and we all feel more cared for. Something so simple has become so powerful.

And best of all is that it’s now extended beyond just our family. Even when eating with friends or other family members, my kids ask to do three stars and a wish. They want the chance to talk about their day. And they want to learn more about other people and what made their day interesting and happy. And so we share and connect more with these other people who are special to us too.


Avatar of Kerry Rosser

I love my three country kids - and all things writing! Like most mums, I wear lots of hats - writer, children's author, organisational psychologist and the pairer of the odd socks!

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