Family mealtimes are a vital tool for child’s physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. I keep asking myself what are mealtimes like in our family and how often do we eat together? I have noticed mark difference in my five year old son when we started having meals together. Whether your child is a newborn, a toddler or in school, your approach to family meals is important for your child’s growth and development. A positive relationship around food fosters feeling of safety, security and bonding between the adults and children in a family.
As my child has grown from infant to toddler, and then from preschooler age to school age, my job as a parent has been to provide him with nutritious food served in stress-free environment. Mealtimes with the family help create stronger bonds; they foster the feeling of being needed and of belonging to a family. I feel eating together enhances communication. It keeps me up dated about what’s going on at my child’s school. I feel it is the best time to teach my kid about family values. In fact mealtimes are bonding times with children.
I even use the food preparation time as an opportunity for me and my child to be together. Older children can also help prepare meals. Shelling peas, applying butter, helping in baking the cake are easy jobs for them.
Mealtimes are occasions to teach new tastes. As the baby grows, doctors recommend the introduction of solid foods. Provide your toddler with finger foods and small spoons to eat with. For those kids going to school mealtime can be a learning experience where they learn to differentiate between healthy and unhealthy food. A growing child learns to eat by himself. As a parent also we get to know what he fond of eating. Mealtimes are also vital for a child’s emotional and mental learnings. Small kids grow up with the ‘I’, ‘me’ and ‘mine’ concept. They need to learn to grow from it to the ‘we’, ‘us’ and ‘our’ stage. They have to learn to share. Encourage them to learn to pass the food around the table.
Children have short attention spans and find it difficult to keep quiet or still in one place for long. Making them sit around the table will help them instill this discipline, so vital in the classroom. Mealtimes are time of learning for you too. Find out what the kids are doing at school, what they have to say about their friends and teachers, plan an outing and tell funny stories.
Keep meal times as stress free as possible. Make it one of your goals to serve meals in a relaxed social atmosphere. Don’t worry if your child eats less on some days because a child will never go hungry.
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