Do you sit down to eat dinner together on a regular basis? Sitting down to eat dinner can be tough for a busy family especially if you are juggling after school activities, working late, or running your kids to their extracurricular activities during the week. But there is proven research available that eating dinner together around the kitchen table is very important to the emotional and well-being of your child/children. We get it if you can’t sit down every single night, but you should make it a priority to sit down and eat dinner together as much as possible.
Work on Those Table Manners
Many kids don’t have a clue on how to use proper table manners when they have to attend a formal or even eat out at a restaurant. Family mealtime can be used to teach your children how to act at the dinner table. Use this time to teach them what is appropriate vs unacceptable behavior. Here is a list of ideas on what you should teach your child so that they are prepared on how to act in a
- how to place their napkin in their lap
- use their silverware properly
- napkins should be used to wipe their mouth instead of their hand or sleeve
- how to chew with their mouth closed
- Ask to be served or pass any food or condiments that they can’t reach
- how to behave if they don’t like something they try to eat
- manners like please, thank you, no thank you, yes ma’am or sir go a long way
Get the Kids in the Kitchen to Help Prepare the Meals
Do you allow your kids to help you prepare meals? Allowing your kids to help you prepare meals is not only a great way to spend quality time with your child. But, it is a great way to teach them about food preparation, cooking, and cleaning up.
Don’t be afraid to get your toddler or young child in the kitchen too. They can do simple tasks like pouring ingredients, mixing with your help, gather supplies, setting the table, prepping food, cleaning up, or even watching what you are doing. So next time you are preparing food or making cookies, invite your child into the kitchen to help you.
Improve Family Communication
Dinner time should be a scared part of your day spent catching up with your family. With busy parents, carving out time to spend talking with your family about the day’s activities or how things are going is dwindling (I’m guilty too). Dedicate at least one day a week to focus on improving your family’s communication skills. You can even try these, 50 family dinner conversations here if you don’t know what to talk about.
Simple communication around the dinner table will help your kids feel loved, respected, and even feel safer when they are at home. Plus, open communication allows your kids to feel comfortable to come and talk to you. Whether they come to you with problems or things that they want to discuss without every family member around.
Encourage Your Child to Try New Foods
Kids are generally picky eaters and they usually do everything in their power to resist trying new foods. Don’t be surprised if your picky eater turns up their nose at anything new that you serve them. Keep in mind that it typically takes children at least 8 times to be exposed to a new food before they gather up the courage to try it.
Sitting down at the dinner table allows your child to see you trying new foods and that you enjoy them. When my kids were little, I usually asked my kids to try a spoonful when I served a new food. They had to at least try it before I let them tell me that they don’t like something. If they tried it and didn’t like it, I would wait to reintroduce it another time.
Eating at Out is Unhealthy and Expensive
Meals that are purchased outside of the home generally cost more and lack the nutritional value that you get when you prepare your own meals. Even though the cost of food is continually rising, it is still cheaper to eat meals at home as much as possible. Don’t get me wrong, I know how convenient it is to run through the drive-thru on your way home.
Even though you have activities to contend with in the evening, using your crockpot can save you time and money. The Instapot (aff link) is another option when it comes to serving your family healthy, nutritious meals quickly.
How to Improve Your Child’s Overall Well-Being
Did you know that simply eating together as a family could help improve your child’s academic performance? According to Ann Dolin M.Ed, preparing meals at home and sitting down to dinner together creates unity and togetherness. So if your child is struggling in school, you can easily help your child by eating as many meals together as a family. Here are some
- Kids are more likely to make better grades and test scores
- Reduces stress levels
- Children are more content emotionally
- Models healthy eating habits
- Eating meals together reduces the chances of your child picking up bad habits like smoking, drinking, or doing drugs
- Kids are more confident and actually feel that their parents are proud of them
A Case For Family Meals Infographic
Infographic Credit: Fixed By Assurant Health