As the mom of a very active and mobile 5-year old and an inquisitive and talkative 8-year old, I sometimes find the dinner hour pretty tough. It seems I’m constantly reminding my young daughter to try to sit still and chew while reminding my son to have a bite or two in between sentences.

Recently, I’ve discovered that distracting them a bit during dinner can really help. If I can get them to focus on something, they listen (or take turns listening) and actually spend time eating while listening. I’ve come up with a few games to play during dinner that really help with this. I’m going to share a few of those here with you.

Worst and Best Game

Take turns going around the table each telling about what the worst thing that happened to you today. Then do a second round telling about the best thing. 

This game allows some lengthier talking from each person. While that person talks, the kids tend to listen and eat. It also, I think, lets them know that life isn’t perfect for everyone all the time. We all have some good and some bad and it’s ok to talk about the bad things as well as the good.

My Favorite Thing Game

The youngest person at the table starts this game. They ask any other one person what their favorite X is, such as, “What is your favorite fruit?” “What is your favorite color?” “What is your favorite piece of furniture?” “What is your favorite princess?” “What is your favorite yogurt flavor?” “What is your favorite way to chew?” The possible questions are endless.

The person they asked thinks for a bit and then comes up with an answer. It is then their turn to ask someone a favorite thing question. To make it a tiny bit less simple, we have a rule that you cannot ask the person who just asked you AND you cannot ask the same question that was just asked of you. This makes each person have to think of a new question at each turn. You’ll find, as we do, that after the initial color and flavor questions, you really start to see what is on your kids’ minds that day. If they’re asking a lot about sports or math equations, there you go!

The Word Sound Game

You probably know this one from when we were all kids. It’s where you say a word and then the next person has to come up with a word that starts with its last letter. We played it with Place Names as kids. We made this one simpler, and ideal for kids still learning to spell, by letting them say any word that starts with the last letter of the previous word.

We try to alternate parent-child-parent-child with this one so that we can give appropriately challenging words to our kids. Our daughter, who is just learning to spell, will get more cat, trick, top style words whereas our son gets words that have surprising endings, like although, or silent final letters, like collapse. When we can think of them, at least.

What I Like About You

In this game, we take it in turns going around the table and choosing one person to tell them what we like about them. The kids really love hearing what we have to say and we try to change it up. It’s also really fun to hear what they like about each other and the rather odd things they come up with about us, “Mommy, I like that your toes have sparkly polish even if today some of it is missing.” Oops! Ha!

Those are our current favorite games. I’d love to hear what you do to help make dinner a fun time for kids and to distract them into eating.