As mum to four kids, I know first-hand how crazy, loud and sometimes stressful mealtimes can be.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy and value family mealtimes but they’re not certainly not relaxing! If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m a firm believer in the Division of Responsibility in feeding. This is where parents control When, Where and What foods are served, and kids control Whether to eat and How much.
Therefore, it’s up to us to set boundaries
And be consistent in following through with these at mealtimes. In this way, we can help our kids to explore food in a unpressured way whilst maintaining our sanity!
One way to set boundaries is to get your family together and come up with some Family Dinner Time Rules. You’ll be surprised how much even small kids can contribute, with the right prompting! Print out and display your rules in the place where you eat your meals. If anyone breaks the rules, refer to the family contract!
Here’s are the Dinner Rules that work for our family, maybe you’ll want to add or remove rules from this. No problem, there’s no right or wrong, do what works for you.
Here’s the thinking behind our rules:
Everyone Sits at the Table: I want to reinforce the notion that meals are about more than what and how much the kids eat. They’re an important part of our family life.
Be Grateful: Cooking family meals is often a thankless task, the least everyone can do is say ‘thanks’!
Be kind: we’ve banned the word ‘disgusting’ and ‘yuck’ from our table, although honestly it still creeps in from time to time. Not only is this rude to the chef (me!), it also has negative knock-on effects on the other kids. It’s OK to think it, just don’t say it out loud or think of a politer way to describe the food.
Help each other: this helps to give kids the heads up that it’s almost dinner time and teaches important life skills. Yes, it is often easier to do these tasks yourself but stick with it, it’ll pay off in the long-term, I hope!
I hope that this helps you and your family to enjoy happy family mealtimes! If you’re struggling with a fussy eater or would simply like to know more about feeding children then why not come along to our Fussy Eating Class or book a consultation with us.