Children & Family Mealtimes

 

Regular family meals provide opportunities for good nutrition and much more. It is extremely beneficial to have family meal times and to use that time as a learning opportunity between parents and kids. Make at least one meal a day a special and a pleasant family time. Sharing family meals provides a multitude of benefits to families as a whole. 

Serving your kids solo, would mean that they are missing out on a variety of social interactions. Parents are also missing out on teaching important skills to their children, with the powerful tool of role modelling. Children benefit in a variety of specific ways when families share regular meals together, provided the family meals feature a variety of healthy foods, in moderation. The life-changing advantages are priceless and more than worth the effort, of overcoming the obstacles and making family meals happen.

Parents need to be warm and engaged, rather than controlling and restrictive, in order to encourage healthy eating in their children. While the ritual of regular family meals is comforting to children, dining with toddlers and preschoolers can be chaotic and messy. Expect spills and some sloppy eating as your child hones his /her self-feeding skills. To minimise mealtime stress, refrain from being a cleanliness freak. Have your child set the table or help in some other way in preparing the meal.

Some of the numerous benefits of Family Meals:

  • Parents can hear from their children about their day and their concerns. Children can hear from their parents, too. Parents get to model, healthy eating, good table manners and polite conversation skills.
  • Eating together with the family without any distractions like television, mobiles, etc., shows your child that mealtime is reserved for savouring healthy food and nurturing meaningful relationships.
  • Their thinking skills and linguistic development improve due to the conversations that tend to take place during family meals.
  • Children who share more family meals, experience better relationships with their families and friends.
  • It is easier for children to develop table manners if you have a family custom of eating together.
  • It is the most reliable way for families to connect and find out what’s going on with each other.
  • If you are  consistent about having positive mealtime conversations with your children, then as they grow into teens, you are more likely to find out if a problem starts to arise and be able to do something about it before it becomes too serious.

During the week, don’t worry if not everyone can make it at mealtimes. Sit with whoever is at home to enjoy a meal with your child. If dinnertime is too hard to get everyone together, try to have a special family breakfast on the weekends or a family lunch.The more often you eat together as a family, the more your kids will benefit, and the better emotional, mental and physical health they will enjoy. The way children eat influences their growth and health during childhood, during adolescence and for the rest of their lives.

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