Meal times should and can be one of the most precious rituals in any family’s home. It’s a time when everyone’s schedules go out the window and you just sit together eating, catching up on each other’s days and enjoying one another’s company.
If your meal times are not like this then let’s have a look at some possible reasons why, along with an appropriate solution for each.
1) Your family doesn’t actually make meal times a priority ie: breakfast or dinner.
Solution: If I told you tha t there is ALWAYS some way your family could sit down and enjoy a meal together at least 3 times a week, what would you say? If you simply cannot see how, then rethink the following:
- Wake up, job start and/or end times
- Location of where you work or live
- Certain scheduled activities that are always interfering.
You CAN do this. Take a no-excuses approach to making it happen.
2) Your kids only want chicken nuggets or sweet things.
Solution: If you do not provide junk food, your children will not have the option of eating it. If you you provide good food and they don’t want it that night, use a consistent rule that they must try it. If they refuse to try it, use my 4 step discipline technique. 75% of the time, they’ll say, “Mmmm, that’s good!” However, if they don’t like it, thank them for trying and then let them eat whatever else has been served alongside and ignore the situation.
Another great idea is to keep the lower shelf of the fridge stocked with fruit, yogurt, and vegetable snacks so they can help themselves if they get hungry later.
3) You try to control their eating too much.
Solution: Nothing will bring up revolt quicker than a parent insisting a plate be finished. If you worry over every bite your child eats he/she will become a fussy eater. Remember: children want control over their lives. They quickly figure out that food is one area they can gain that control. Makes sense, right? If you don’t make a huge issue, they won’t either.
4) Your kids aren’t open to trying new things or they will only eat “white” or “green” things.
Solution: Get your kids involved in cooking. When kids are active participants in the cooking of their food they become more interested and excited about it. There is an incentive to try new things! What often happens is that kids will end up trying something they’ve often refused just because they were not being asked, told or forced to eat it.
I strongly believe that family meals should be for communicating and enjoying. Let’s offer healthy food, taking into consideration our children’s likes, and then let the rest of the meal flow.