Making Family Dinner like a Campfire

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 HIGH point of their day.

•  The LOW point of their day.

•  And anything else they want to share (that’s the BUFFALO).  The buffalo is usually a funny story or some other fun fact.

For a twist, we sometimes make rules for our sharing, like your high needs to be three words or less, or your low needs to be one word.  It creates a fun challenge and makes us all think.

In the book, The Whole-Brain Child, authors Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson talk about the importance of getting kids to remember their stories.  So, instead of asking, “How was your day?” which invariably gets a one-word response, they recommend asking “What was the best part of your day?” and “What was your not-the-best part?”  Sounds like a high and low of the day to me!

We do it at dinner every night.  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, a discussion gets started and we have to refocus, but that’s okay.  We’re connecting with each other, sharing, and finding out what’s going on in each others’ lives.  And our kids know that they won’t be excused from dinner until everyone has had a chance to share.

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!  Make sure you share yours, too!

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