MAKING THE DINNER TABLE SPECIAL
Children who eat 4 or more times per week with their families are healthier, happier, better students and less likely to abuse drugs (Time Magazine, June 4, 2006). Eating as a family is also a great time to connect emotionally with your children and to model manners that will last a life time. Appropriate behavior at the table will give your child self-confidence in a variety of social settings and is important to self esteem.
Here are some generally accepted manners for all family members.
- Once a child can use a utensil, teach him/her to use one for all food other than finger food.
- Teach children to sit at the table rather than hunching over a plate.
- Bites should be small enough to fit comfortably in a child’s mouth and to be chewed with a closed mouth and encourage a 5 second wait after swallowing food before taking another bite
- Encourage children to wait until their mouth is empty to talk.
- Teach children to wait until everyone is served to begin eating
- Remind your child to tear off a piece of bread before buttering it instead of adding butter to a whole piece of bread.
- Ask that something be passed to you, don’t reach over someone else to get it.
- Keep a napkin in your lap and use it to wipe your mouth
- Always thank the cook! Even if the food wasn’t great, someone took time and energy to prepare it. Teach your kids to be grateful.
Need some conversation starters? Sometimes the “how was your day” question doesn’t go very far with family conversation. Below are some questions to make your family conversation more magical.
- What was the nicest thing you did for someone else today? What was the nicest thing that someone else did for you today?
- In 60 seconds, tell us as much about your day as you can.
- Teach us one thing that you learned today that you think we don’t yet know.
- If you could go on a vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go?
- What was the best part of your day and what was the worst part?
- Or how about asking kids to make-up their own conversation starters? They can write questions that go into a bowl. At family meals someone draws a question to start the conversation ball rolling.