How to Have a Closer Family in 5 Minutes a Day

Those of you who’ve been loyal readers know one of my favorite connection tips (besides unplugging), honed over years of practice around campfires at summer camp and family dinners: DAILY SHARING!

Find a time each day – dinner or bedtime are often good times to set up a consistent sharing practice – to spend just a few minutes sharing with each other.

The only rules for your daily sharing are that one person speaks at a time and everyone else listens to the person speaking. Your kids may need a few reminders, as listening attentively is a skill most of us need to work on!

Your kids (especially if they are pre-teens or teenagers) may balk when you bring up the idea of daily sharing and do it for the first time. Stay strong. They will eventually learn to appreciate your daily sharing practice. Even if they continue balking, don’t stop. Even if they don’t show it on the outside, they will eventually come to appreciate a time each day when caring people listen to what they have to say.

For January, pick one sharing topic and get your family into the habit of sharing the same thing each day. After you get in the groove of sharing, you can spice it up with a different sharing topic!

My Favorite Sharing Topics

HIGH & LOWS

This is a simple and well-known sharing practice where each family member shares something good that happened in their day (a high) and something bad (a low). Sharing often leads to stories and discussion about different events — the side track conversations are good, so let those happen! There are also additions you can add. At camp, we often do High, Low, and Hero, where each camper shares their high and low as well as someone who was kind to them or a “hero” that day. Another twist on this activity is called “Rose, Thorn and Leaf.” The rose is the high, the thorn is the low, and the leaf is something you’re looking forward to.

THREE GOOD THINGS

Each person shares three good things that happened in their day or three things they are grateful for. This gratitude exercise (when journaled) has been proven to reduce depression symptoms. While your sharing conversation won’t be written down (unless you choose to do so), it can still bring a positive focus to your sharing. Ideally, because everyone anticipates the daily sharing, everyone will be more aware of and looking out for the positive things that happen every day.

What did you do today that was kind?

I love the idea of sharing something each person did that was kind or something kind someone else did for you. Focusing on kindness is incredibly important in our increasingly unkind-seeming world.

Question of the Day

Questions are a great way to connect with each other. One sharing idea is to have each family member answer the same question. For the early sharing, I would recommend starting with simple questions like, “What’s your favorite movie?” Alternatively, you can rotate who asks the question.

Enjoy your daily sharing practice and please let me know how it goes!

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