How Do You Keep A Convo.Going If They Dont Ask.Questions Make Meaning Out of Mealtimes

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Make Meaning Out of Mealtimes

Are you looking to build closeness in your family? Do you want to improve communication with your children and spouse? Eating together as a family helps!

Breakfast, lunch and dinner are always busy times for families. Parents and children take their meals in a busy schedule of school, clubs, sports, and work – and they can miss a great opportunity to connect with each other. Sitting down for a meal can strengthen family connection, increase quality communication and emotional support, and reinforce healthy eating habits. Each individual’s physical and emotional well-being can improve when we slow down to eat together. It’s an effort worth the extra effort!

So how do you squeeze in one more event?

Schedule family dinners into your calendar just as you would any event or commitment. Deliberately setting aside time lets the whole family know that this is something just as important as baseball or ballet practice. That also means that your family should limit distractions, too: no TV, phone, tablet, or computer for half an hour or an hour.

Plan dinner with your children. What a great opportunity to teach preparation and organization (picking a date and place), planning (eating out or staying in), following directions (using recipes), and making intentional food choices. You teach healthy eating habits and allow children to practice good decision making. It also helps young children develop self-esteem as they contribute to the family.

Share your day. Encourage conversation and talk about the highlights, events of your day, or something you are looking forward to with your family. If you’re having trouble keeping the conversation going or you’re getting a lot of one-word responses, try prompts like “something you’re grateful for” or “highs and lows (achievements and disappointments) from your day.”

Keep the conversation going. Asking specific questions helps; sometimes “How was your day?” can end a conversation before it starts. For example, you could ask “What is your favorite subject right now?” or “What pieces of art do you like in the museum?” Model openness to happy conversation with your child, and ask follow-up questions to your children’s answers so they feel heard and understood. Avoid using this time to discuss your problems with your children – keep the conversation relaxed and pleasant instead.

Family mealtimes don’t have to be daily. Consistency is key (weekly if possible!), but be flexible, too – you can change the date, time, and place. You all can eat at home or out, pack a picnic, or go out for breakfast.

It may seem foreign at first but stick with it and you will find that the security and comfort it provides will overcome any lingering resistance. The real meaning behind family mealtime is to practice togetherness and support so the more often you share that time, the more you will see the benefits.

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