Laying the groundwork for supporting good mental health around the dinner table is a skill that all families need to utilize as often as possible.
Yes, I know that everyone’s lives are hectic and chaotic, but we all need to do our part to make sure that gathering around the dinner table does not become a thing of the past.
Many of us no longer have this important family ritual as a part of our daily routine, and if that is the case, it’s never too late for a change. We are all busy, and that includes our kids. BUT, whatever it is you are doing, it can wait an hour in most instances.
Sixty minutes set aside to reconnect as a family. Just try it.
Sometimes, the most complex issues are addressed with the most basic concepts, and the dinner table is a neutral ground where everyone can feel safe, seen, and heard.
When friends and family take the time to stop, slow down, and share a meal, things are revealed that otherwise would not be.
But then there is the other attention hog at dinner time: electronics. An essential part of this action is for everyone to put away all phones and other electronic devices before even taking their seat at the table. If your kids are younger, create a “parking zone” away from the dinner table where all phones, Smartwatches, and tablets are left.
And turn off the TV!
Then, talk to one another. Like, talk. Do your kids know that you are a real person? That you’ve been down the same hypothetical roads they have, and spent your share of time on the Struggle Bus? Sometimes, knowing that they are not alone in their worries or that you know exactly how they feel is all the comfort they need. Telling our children to “suck it up” or “get over it” is not what they need to hear to get through their mental turmoil and angst. As adults, we have had many years of practice in navigating uncomfortable situations and times of crisis.
Kids have not.
This is where the words and actions of a trusted adult are critical in the development of a young mind. Ask trust-building and gentle questions like these to open the door to honest conversations with kids:
- That you had a tough day?
- If you could fix one thing in your life, what would that one thing be?
- Did you know that, even as adults, we have to deal with bullies?
- When I was your age, I remember having problems I needed to talk about. Is that how you feel?
Reframing and Redirecting
As parents, we all know about “redirecting,” especially when our kids are tiny. Redirecting works great with older kids too, as long as you don’t use it to gloss over their problems or avoid uncomfortable conversations. Reframing is an excellent tool to use with kids caught in the endless loop of worry. In my diverse picture book, Think of it Like This you can show your family small practical ways to learn reframing habits together. Practice this talk and this mindset together for even more of an impact.
Three different challenging situations are revealed within the pages of Think of it Like This:
- A little girl tears her cherished dress.
- A favorite store is closed.
- A girl’s behavior is bossy and selfish.
Each situation causes the main character to feel bad or struggle, but when each problem is reframed differently and more positively, new (and even better) solutions present themselves.
Through the gentle prompts in the book, readers are encouraged to think about their reactions and what is happening. Is it the end of the world? Did it ruin your day? Does it really have to? Are you part of the problem? Can you change things? These pages are filled with simple solutions and messages that are important for today’s kids to learn. This book also teaches therapeutic skills such as mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy to demonstrate the essential lessons of self-control and perspective building.
Your child may be upset that someone in their classroom has a nicer house than theirs. Reframing this concern could include reminding your child that you (as a parent) are grateful to have a roof over their heads and a place that feels like home (not just a “house.”).
Reframing and Redirecting can also be achieved with a dinner table game that I call “Tell Me Something Good.”
This game involves everyone at the table taking a turn in telling about something good that happened that day. It can be as important as “I got an A on my spelling test” to everyday gratitude like “I’m glad it’s not bath night!” This fun game helps to share everyone’s day in a positive and light-hearted way while shifting the focus away from heavy subjects and negative things.
The above tips and thoughts are important to developing and teaching mindset growth in kids and adults alike. Remember, it’s the small things that can considerably impact the communication among the people in your home.
Make A Way Media has a wonderful new reading initiative called K Club!
K Club is a ‘club’ that we have created for our younger fans to subscribe to and have access to things like cool coloring sheets, stickers, fun activity packages, contests, and much more!
GO HERE to sign up for K Club today!
Parents and teachers will love K Club because it will be a fun and interactive way for them to use their love of Make A Way Media books to stay engaged in activities and events.
GO HERE to sign up for K Club today!
We aren’t ready to let the hypothetical cat-out-of-the-bag quite yet, but we do encourage everyone to follow Make A Way Media and Author Deedee Cummings on Instagram to see the big reveal and learn more about the reading and learning club for young readers. Stay tuned for more details!
Also, did you know that @AuthorDeedeeCummings does LIVE Author Chats every Thursday at 3:00 pm EST on Instagram? ⌚️ These IG Lives are a great opportunity to learn more about this amazing author of sixteen diverse children’s books, discover what’s coming up in her world, and hear about the latest-n-greatest project that she is working on!
Tag a friend and remind them to get on Instagram this Thursday and watch for these official MAWM hashtags as well!