Family Dinners are Important; Here are Three Tips for Having a Fun Time Together
Did you know that studies have shown that kids eat healthier and are likely to struggle less in school and with social issues, if they have dinner with their family at least five times every week? Unfortunately, only 59% of families accomplish this. It can be difficult to work around busy, discordant schedules, and sometimes it feels like more stress to arrange than it’s worth. Here are three tips for having fun family dinners, so that everyone can spend more quality time together.
1. Family Dinner Conversation
Conversation might seem like a very natural activity, but sometimes, especially with children, the approach is a learned one. Good communication can improve moods and help reduce tension. One common mistake parents make is asking yes or no questions. Studies have shown that children reveal 50 details when interviewers ask these questions, compared to 140 details when an open ended conversation frame is used instead. Consider thinking up daily topics everyone can discuss, rather than having the same discussion every day.
2. Family Dinner Games
There are a number of different games families can play while eating. The ideal games, of course, are ones you can play without your hands and without too much concentration, as this would inhibit players from actually eating and drinking. Verbal games are often fun, such as “finish the story.” For this game, each participant adds one line to a continuing story someone starts. There is no winner, only laughter for the funny twists the tale will take. Other games rely on room observation, such as “I spy.” Looking for something to do right after eating? Family dinner table games like Apples to Apples, Cranium, and various card games are good choices.
3. Food for a Family at the Dinner Table
Who can forget this essential element? A 2000 study found that children ate more vegetables and fruits when they ate with their family frequently. It’s easy to be a role model for your children, and there are fun ways to prepare food so that kids feel like it’s their “creation” and fun to eat. Sushi, for example, is fairly easy, fun, and inexpensive to make, and can be a good healthy food introduction to kids. Homemade mashed potatoes are not only better for you than store bought flakes, but represent a good way to give kids “work” to do in the kitchen.
What do you do with your family at the dinner table?