parenting

6 Proven Benefits of Eating Meals Together as a Family

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 extra curricular 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 on 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 how to use proper table manners when they have to attend a formal or even eat out at a restaurant. Family meal time 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 restaurant or fancy occasion.

  • 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 families 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 additonal benefits of eating meals together as a family:

  • 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

Family Meal Time Benefits Infographic

Infographic Credit: Fixed By Assurant Health

Do you eat meals together as a family?

icecreamnstickyfingers

Christy has three children. She has over 22 years of parenting experience, including parenting as a young mom, a single parent, and dealing with chronic illness/pain. When she isn't writing, you can find her coloring, playing Candy Crush, and listening to Taylor Swift.

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16 Comments

  1. We are working on this more! With school activities and such, it can be tricky. And then sometimes I admit I’d prefer to read at the table. Oops!

  2. I love this! We eat dinner together on a nightly basis and have for years. It’s a great way to check in with one another after a busy day.

  3. This is so important. We made sure to have dinner together almost every night with our kids and we still have those wonderful memories now that they’re grown.

  4. I have to admit I didn’t know there was so many benefits to eating with your family. We always did when I was a child and myself and my partner do now we are together.

  5. Bonnie G says:

    Life is certainly busy. Although we are really busy we always make sure that we at least sit down and have supper together every night.

  6. Absolutely yes. Great post! This should be a part of a parent’s handbook.

  7. Only part of my comment took! I said, this should be a part of the parent’s handbook. Ha! Let’s write one and get rich!

  8. Beth says:

    When all 5 of my kids lived at home, it could be tricky to find a time when we could all eat together, but we managed to do it most nights. Even if there weren’t any long-lasting benefits, the camaraderie just makes the day better.

  9. Aww…Family Meals are really heart warming. This is a must to all families to be able to have a stronger bond.

  10. Gervin Khan says:

    These are so many great points, my family and I preferred to eat at home instead of eating in a restaurant because we are able to spend more time to talk and laughing together.

  11. I grew up eating meals together as a family. My parents would not start until we all gathered at the table. And I have now brought that to my family.

  12. Ashley says:

    This is one thing we always do. Every night we eat dinner together. It’s important for us all to reconnect after a long day.

  13. I agree in all of these! We eat dinner together since eating breakfast together due to conflict schedule. It’s an awesome time to communicate with children.

  14. Kathy says:

    I completely agree with this. We always try to sit down together and eat as a family. I know my kids love it, and they sure love helping out in the kitchen too.

  15. I agree with you, eating meals together as a family is very important! Unfortunately, it’s not something that my family can do often.

  16. Monica Y says:

    We try to eat meals as a family as often as we can, it brings us together

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