“Nooooooooooo!” he screamed. “I don’t like that!”

This is the standard reaction from our middle one. He’s rarely at the table at the start of a meal. He’s not one for conforming.

But this meal was special. We had two cousins staying with us and I’d prepared a two-part curry with naan and poppadoms in an effort to make it feel like a Saturday night celebration.

He sat in a grump on the kitchen floor and looked on whilst we danced around each other filling our plates with our feast, excited to start.

I suddenly remembered the ‘Funny Talk’ slides I’ve started putting on my Stories.

“Would you rather be a lion or a lizard?” I proffered at the younger cousin. “LION!” he replied enthusiastically; the starting point of a warm and interesting conversation. It broke through the formality of sitting together and created a single (and happy) conversation that we could all focus upon.

Middle one suddenly came bouncing through the doors to join us. He had his own answer to offer, desperate to have his opinion heard.

Funny Talk. It’s certainly not a magic fix, but one piece in the happy mealtimes puzzle.

And over a year or so of consciously initiating Funny Talk at the table, I have found that not only does it help with settling the fractious mood, but it has created so many opportunities for our 6, 4 & 3 yo kids to exchange ideas, learn how to take turns, get to know each other’s interests and consider alternative opinions.

Keep an eye on my Stories for more Funny Talk conversation starters. Yesterday I started with the lion and lizard question, then added some more that came up either from the kids or adults over the course of our curry feast. But I have a spreadsheet with a wide variety of questions for all age groups, so I’ll be adding them over time.