What do kids choose to share with their parents about their camp experience, or, for that matter, about any experience?
Most kids immediately share about their accomplishments (“I got up on water skis!”), the fun, and the new friends they made. Others focus on a negative event with another camper (“Johnny wouldn’t play the card game I wanted to play”). I think this is true about how kids communicate with their parents about most things — school, friends, sports, etc. Some focus on the positive and best parts of their day, and others seem to connect with their parents through negative events, complaining, and sharing the “drama” in their lives.
Adults are the same way. Some choose to focus on the positive events when connecting with family and friends, and others choose to focus on the negative and dramatic. This is especially noticeable on Facebook profiles that show a string of bad events in the updates. Perhaps their connection with friends and families is through the support and encouragement they get when they report the negatives?
Some kids seem to have a relationship with their parents that is focused on the negative events of their lives. The child communicates about negative events (mean kids, bad teacher, etc.), and the parent gives a lot of attention and support to the issue. Perhaps this habit developed over time, as the child found that reporting something negative was a great way to get the parent’s attention. Or, perhaps the child was just born with a “glass half empty” nature.
Other people seem to rarely have anything go wrong and have only positive things to share. They don’t share with their family and friends about any negative events. Some children, too, don’t open up to their parents about a bad event, perhaps because they don’t want to worry or burden them with it. Or, maybe they don’t know how to bring it up.
An activity we do at campfires at camp has been helpful in our family at getting our kids to communicate about both positive and negative events in their lives. For children who don’t normally share their struggles and keep them bottled up, it helps them open up. And for those who don’t naturally focus on the good things, it helps guide them to see the positive in their day. It’s an activity called, “High & Lows,” or, as it’s now evolved, “Highs, Lows, and Buffaloes.”
It’s very simple: Each person has a turn (uninterrupted, with everyone focused on them) to share:
• The LOW point of their day.
• And anything else they want to share (that’s the BUFFALO).
We do it at dinner. Everyone likes their turn. We learn about each other, and we all have to think of something to share! Lots of great stories come out, and we end up laughing, giving advice, and just feeling connected.
People get interrupted, long stories get shared, and we have to refocus a lot, but that’s okay. We’re connecting with each other, sharing, and finding out what’s going on in each others’ lives.
Try it in your family, and see if you can get your kids to share the highs and lows of their day, their week, and their life!