Family Dinners – How to Get the Kids to Stay at the Table Longer
by Monica J
There was a time when having dinner together as a family was the highlight of the day in most American homes. This would be the time of day when the entire family would come together and wrap up the day by discussing important events and catching up with one another. These days, fewer families are taking advantage of family dinners by making it a special family time. Often, modern family dinners are marked with long, uncomfortable silences as kids sullenly wait to be excused. Parents don’t know how to get the kids to stay at the dinner table longer. It’s possible to change so that the dinner table is transformed back into the lively community gathering it ought to be, but it will take a lot of effort and patience.
First, make sure that your entire family knows that family dinners are a designated family time. Everyone ought to make it a priority, especially the parents. If you and your spouse are checking your watches or jumping up to get the phone, it’s no wonder that your children can’t wait to flee the table. Lead by example. Turn off your cell phone, turn off the television, and commit to sitting and eating with your family until everybody’s finished.
You can also try to make family dinners more fun for the kids every once in a while. Try having fun theme nights once a week, like breakfast for dinner or an indoor picnic on the living room floor. If you can afford it, try going out to eat as a family every once in a while. If you’re away from home, the kids won’t have a room to want to go to. And do your best to serve food that’s delicious as well as healthful. If your kids don’t like the food, they’ll be far less inclined to want to stay at the table.
And if you want to stimulate conversation at the dinner table, practice talking to your kids in other contexts, too. The more comfortable they are talking to you, the more willing they’ll be to talk to you in front of the rest of your family members. And even more importantly than talking to them, practice listening to them. If you’re always interrupting them to interject their thoughts, they’ll be frustrated. Let them have their say, even if you’re dying to interject. They’ll be more willing to listen to you once you’ve listened to them, at family dinners and everywhere else.
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Disclaimer: All thoughts and opinions are my own. I support children’s products that promote education, learning through play and empowerment for all children.