What is your best thing ?
Those are the words we hear every night repeated at our dinner table.
Years ago when the older kids were just little people we started an everyday dinner time tradition, to try and focus on each other's highlights and low points in the day.
At some stage in the meal someone will ask any other person at the table "What was your best thing today? " The replies are often funny, or mundane, sometimes they are revealing and pleasantly surprising. Sometimes a best thing is as simple as the snuggly welcome home someone got from the dog that afternoon, or that they managed to shoot a netball hoop after 258 failed attempts. I LOVE it when their best thing is whatever I've cooked for dinner.
The initiator then asks " What was your worst thing today?" Again, the answers can reveal in a sentence or two whether the replier is having issues with a subject or classmate, whether they are sad about something we didn't even know about. It's always okay to say you didn't have a worst thing.. That is a happy day indeed !
We then ask again " What is another best thing" to finish on a positive. Once that person has given their three answers it's their turn to ask another person at the table and so we go on. Any visitors to our table are included, including grandparents, aunts and uncles, sleepover visitors, even dad's mate who came for dinner on his way to a conference !
The only rules are - we all listen to each other's answers, and you aren't allowed to say "nothing" for your best thing. If the answer is nothing we all give some helpful hints, including the fact that they have a hot meal in front of them, warm clothes and a loving family. They might need to be reminded that there is only one week until school holidays, or that they got an award at school assembly.
So what were we teaching our kids ?
That there is always more good than bad in every day.
To try and focus on the positives and really think about what worked and what didn't work in each day.
They have learnt to sit, listen and take some interest in what is going on in the lives of every other person at the table.
When kids are little, we as parents often ask "What did you do today?" Imagine how busy little people try to summarize all that happened in the day- Impossible! Giving them a starting place and a specific question helps them organize their thoughts.
As the children have gotten older, we've found this little tradition has been crucial in engaging our teenagers in conversation. We could ask "Have you had a good day?" and we would no doubt get a monosyllable answer. With this tradition, they have to answer in a sentence and give more than just a Yes or No response.
We didn't realise it when we started, but this simple family tradition has become one of the most important daily events in our lives.
Do you have a family ritual or tradition ? How do you help your child reflect on their day ?