Have you ever participated in an icebreaker or round robin based on roses and thorns? The game is to name one good thing (a rose) and one bad thing (a thorn), usually about your day. While it is often applied in a variety of group settings, it can also be introduced to household members who are spending an unprecedented amount of time together during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Family Dinner Project lists Rose and Thorn as one of many ways to promote conversation at the dinner table. On December 3rd every year, Family and Consumer Sciences celebrates Dine In Day to remind busy families to enjoy the benefits eating together. It is not unusual for families with busy schedules to eat on the run. As Ohioans have been directed to stay at home unless engaged in essential work or activity, there might be more opportunities for dining in together. While the Family Dinner Project shares numerous suggestions, OSU Extension compiled a list of five, no supplies needed Mealtime Games from their site.
The Rose and Thorn activity can be as brief as checking in on a high and a low for the day or it can be a more elaborate for on-going conversation. Sometimes, a third category of “bud” is added along with the rose and thorn. The “bud” represents what you are looking forward to.
Different than the example of an easy check-in, The Mindful Schools uses Rose, Thorn and Bud as a complete mindfulness activity in the classroom. They recommend a four-step process:
- define terms for the activity including a simple worksheet
- brainstorm and jot down ideas
While this process is more involved than a mealtime discussion, it can offer a more in-depth outline for families looking to learn more about themselves and those they live with. An additional way Mindful Schools suggests using the activity, “is to brainstorm ideas for turning thorns into roses or describe ways thorns might support learning and growing”. These same ideas can be used at home for adults as well as students.
Beyond initiating family conversation, are there additional advantages of using Rose, Thorn and Bud at home? Research has shown benefits of practicing gratitude, naming life challenges and the value of looking forward to something. Giving thanks can make you happier. Naming negative emotions is one way to make them more manageable. Looking forward to an event can bring happiness especially in the time leading up to it.
Today, my Rose is that my family is healthy. My Thorn is that we really miss seeing extended family, friends and other loved ones in person. My Bud is looking forward to experiencing the real-life, real-time, spring buds emerging on plants in our neighborhood.