Family that eats together lives together. I shall try to point out some of the goodness around family dinners. The key factor necessary to achieve this is a great amount of patience and time from us elders. As parents of young children, we need to have a cool head about the mess and wait for them patiently to do the task assigned to them. This shall nurture independence, responsibility, sense of belonging and the feeling of being respected in children which is intrinsic to the development of their character
It is found that conversation over dinner time has a profound influence on having a great acumen of vocabulary for young children and a great ground for honing the intellect for older children. Make it fun and have conversation about their day and yours. For toddlers, talk to them about a bird, animal, a car or someone or any incident. The vocabulary should be a melange of known and some unknown words.
Great social skills
Make them invite people to the table for dinner time. Give your child the opportunity to eat with people who love them. They learn to share the food that is there on the table. They learn to listen to experiences from everyone, this develops bonding and fosters intellectual development. The real power of dinners brings out the interpersonal quality of everyone. Having dinners together as a child evolves the relationship between parents and children, this transforms to great partnership between the two during the tough teenage years.
Practical life skills
Give the child the opportunity to lay the plates, cutlery, and napkins. Fill the glasses with water. This requires skill and they shall become adept with habit. Prepping the table by bringing the dishes prepared for dinner. And allow them to clean up the table after dinner time. This makes them feel wanted and important. They love helping mothers at the kitchen which is a key habit that needs to be fostered amongst children these days.
Children learn by example so if they see you eating a variety of foods, they are more likely to do so as well. On the table do not offer them a wide variety to suit their taste. It’s proven that children who eat with their families are likely to try and eventually consume a wider range of foods that are high on nutrient value too. They learnt to relish what is served along with others. They would learn the value of food. Value for the person’s effort and time who prepares the food and how not to waste food.
NO SCREEN while eating
Studies have well elucidated over and again that the association between TV-watching during meal times and being overweight as children.
I’ve just penned a few points to ponder upon this habit at home. Having your child engaged in preparing the meal, procuring items from the market, cleaning etc., will open a wide range of conversation and knowledge about things around them.
It had been an early tradition in India where we ate together as family sitting down while the mother of the family served food to all of us. And during the summer vacation, the house used to be filled with cousins. The grandma of the house sits with a big vessel of mixed sambar rice and the children of the house sit in a semi circle formation around her. She makes small balls of rice and puts it in the hand of each child. And every child must have eaten the ball by the time her turn comes. And the spirit of playful competition to eat was super fun.
Times have changed. We are running all the time as a family. We barely know what we ate for last meal. As adults, most of the morning meals are something that we gobble up on the go, while we are multi tasking on cooking and having the child to eat something. Afternoon meals with colleagues or are in front of the TV. Most of our evening mealtime is shared with some screen – T.V, Tablet/ Mobile device. There is always something important than the stomach. So let us pledge to give our children the same simple pleasure we experienced as a child.
Enjoy your meal.