Families who eat dinner together are doing more than feeding their bodies
By Youth Advocate Programs
Families who eat dinner together are doing more than feeding their bodies. Parents who take the time to plan and prepare family dinners regularly promote love and bonding and contribute to a lifetime of good emotional and physical health for their children. Children who eat dinner regularly with their families enjoy:
- Better academic performance
- Higher self-esteem
- Greater sense of resilience
- Lower risk of substance abuse
- Lower risk of teen pregnancyLower
- Lower risk of depressionLower likelihood of developing eating disorders
- Lower likelihood of developing eating disorders
- Lower rates of obesity (thefamilydinnerproject.org).
Family dinners naturally bring families together with an immediate reward for hungry children-dinner! With busy lives and hectic schedules, family dinners require planning, coordination, and commitment. Here are some steps to help you pull off routine family bonding around the table.
- Involve your Kids-Allow your kids to contribute to the planning of the menu to ensure meals they will eat. This provides a great opportunity to help your children learn to plan. Prepare a shopping list and take your kids to the grocery store. Allowing your kids to help prepare dinner is fun, provides time for bonding, teaches life skills, and give children something to be proud of.
- Be positive-If your family is not accustomed to family meals, they might resist at first. Be positive and resist nagging. Instead, tell your children you love them and you want to spend this time together. During dinner, tell your family about your day and ask about theirs. Offer praise and resist criticism.
- Plan-Schedule dinners for days and times that work. Get agreement from family members to attend dinner. Be realistic as well. Your family may not be able to share dinner 7 nights a week. Shoot for 3-5 nights per week. Make sure to let them know what’s on the menu.
- Unplug-Shut off the TV and don’t allow electronics at the table. Be sure to model the desired behavior through your own actions.
Making mealtime a priority, and keeping it positive will have a lifelong impact on your children and offer routine opportunities for your family to come together and enjoy each other.