The Art of Conversation

By: Heather Desmond O’Neill

There are few things more irritating than trying to have a conversation with someone and they are more focused on their device than engaging in an actual conversation.

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Next time you are in a restaurant, look at the people around you – what are they doing? If there are kids at the table, are the kids on devices?

Just last night my husband and I were able to head out for a nice dinner…..alone…..no kids……a rarity for us. I watched two teenage boys, with their phones up to their faces, walk up the ramp, around a table, and over to their seats. There were adults in front and behind them. They didn’t bump into a thing, which was surprising as their faces didn’t leave their screens. I glanced over at them a little later and they were both mesmerized by whatever was on their screens — not engaging at all in the conversation at the table.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a conversation enthusiast, but come on moms and dads — if our kids can’t engage in small talk with their own families, how do we expect them to do it with other people?

I feel sad for the kids who will grow up thinking this is acceptable behavior.

It is not.

It is also not acceptable behavior for adults…..but that’s a blog for another time.

Parents, talk to your kids. Make them talk to you. Make them talk to you until a time when you don’t have to make them talk to you anymore.

Activity Ideas

My family and I were at Great Wolf Lodge one summer and had dinner in the Lodge restaurant. On the table, they had a placemat with different activities, jokes, coloring, etc. that families could work on together. One of the activity suggestions was to play humdinger (one person hums a song and the others have to guess what it is). We had so much fun playing this game together that day (and still do today).

Here are a few other games you can play with your kids that will keep all of you device free:

  • I-Spy – This is a favorite of ours. We often play while waiting in the doctor’s office.
  • Spell-O-Rama – One person gives a letter, the next person gives the next letter that will spell a word, the third person gives another letter that will continue the word, etc. If we are playing with 3 people we will spell a 3-letter word. If we are playing with 4 people, we spell a 4-letter word. This is great for elementary school kids learning to spell and read.
  • 21 – Without giving the group a specific rotation, the group counts to 21 (or whatever number you choose) without repeating a number. If two people say a number at the same time, you start back at 1. This can get interesting the more people you add in.
  • Math Facts – The kids love answering math facts. A great pastime when we are driving in the car.
  • 100 – Count to 100 by 1s, 2s, 5s, 10s. We will also alternate evens and odds. This was a huge hit when the kids were in kindergarten and first grade.
  • Spelling Bee – This is where we spell anything and everything we can think of.
  • Humdinger – Seriously, try humming your favorite song, or listen to your kids do it and not laugh. It’s amazing how much my kids love this one!

Time with our kids is extremely valuable. You don’t have to have the meaning of life conversation with them every chance you can. Sometimes you just have to put the device down and giggle with them or brush up on a few math facts. Such a great way to teach social skills and create a few memories at the same time.


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