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Chat with a purpose. Your goal during meals is to learn as much as possible about your child’s daily life. Since many kids don’t open up easily, it can be tricky to extract information from them. You are more likely to be successful if you listen more than you talk. Do your best to refrain from lecturing, opining or judging. Approach conversations seriously, no matter how trivial the topic may seem to you as an adult (“It must have been frustrating when Ben stole the ball from you!”) In addition, don’t ask too many questions, but when you do, instead of asking general questions (“How was school?), ask specific ones (“Was math hard today?” and “Who did you sit with at lunch?”) Finally, tell age-appropriate stories about your day. Your kids will enjoy them and it will encourage a give-and-take conversation.
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Focus on fun. Resist the urge to teach or discipline. A few basic rules are important (take your plate from the table, and don’t talk over others), but do your best not to focus on them. Be in the moment with your child—enjoying your time together without any electronics, including your phone!