Family mealtime can be relaxing or stressful and anything in between! It seems everyone wants to know how to have a peaceful meal together—especially parents of young children. Too often we end up waging a food war and no one leaves the table feeling satisfied.
Try these tips for managing mealtime.
1. Disconnect to connect.
You can’t expect mealtime to be a time of reconnecting during the day if you don’t require everyone to turn off the electronics. Unplug.
2. Be attentive and listen.
Mealtime can be the perfect time to engage the family in conversation. You can learn much about each other’s day as well as what is on everyone’s mind. If you are a good listener, you are conveying to your child that what he has to say is important to you. If he feels valued in this way, the chances of him wanting to sit and engage with the family is greater.
3. Avoid food battles.
We cannot make a child eat and we shouldn’t even try. Forcing food can result in a power struggle, which is where mealtimes tend to head south. For example, if your son says he isn’t hungry, respond by saying, “it’s ok that you don’t want to eat tonight, but breakfast will be your next opportunity to eat again”.
4. Let them help.
Kids are more invested when they participate. Let them help set the table as well as clear the dishes after the meal. Why not engage them in some of the meal preparation as well? Occasionally, let them decide what you are going to serve.
Families that share regular mealtimes together seem to produce well-adjusted kids. Starting early is advisable, but if you didn’t it’s not too late to start now!