August 21st, 2017
A family that eats together stays together, and it is always great to have the whole family around during mealtimes to foster closer bonds before everyone grows up and it becomes harder to gather them. The dinner table, in a way, is sacred to each family. It is where secrets are whispered, gossips spewed, heart-felt feelings let out, and it is also at this table that the family grows together. Naturally, you would want to mind your Ps and Qs during mealtimes with the little ones, since it is often the conversations over dinner rather than the dishes themselves that determine if your family has a pleasant dining experience or not. Here are some things that should never be heard at your family’s dinner table:
“Don’t be picky!”
Not all kids take to eating like a champ. Fussy eating is a rite of passage for many young children, and most of the time, it is a fleeting phase. Calling your little ones picky not only makes them feel like they are being labelled, they may also think that they have a problem. Make dinner an enjoyable and fun experience by presenting fruits and vegetables in an interesting way and not making dinnertime rigid.
“You wouldn’t like it.”
Counterproductive as it sounds, this is a phrase frequently used by parents at the dinner table. While you may have the best intentions at heart, saying this to your kid discourages him from trying and quells his curiosity. Even if you’re positive that your child wouldn’t like it, let him try anyway. Want to have a dip in that spicy curry, or a lick of wasabi? Go ahead. Kids learn best by experience.
“Take three more bites of this.”
Mealtimes can sometimes get out of hand, and in a bid to gain control or make sure their child eat enough of the good stuff, parents sometimes dictate how much their child eats by setting quantities to meet. Setting bite quotas takes away your child’s autonomy and independence at the dinner table and in the long run can create food issues. Children are little people and benefit from being treated as people rather than being force-fed by bite-enforcement. Try saying things like “You’ll be missing out on…” for foods they seem to be avoiding instead.
“Finish your greens and you can have dessert.”
Food rewarding (or punishment) is a common strategy used at the dinner table. By either elevating or withholding certain food items, you are sending the message that in order to eat the yummy stuff, you have to go through the yucky stuff first – which doesn’t sound wrong on the surface, until your child learns to prefer the reward food over the “good for you” one and start eating it for the sake of reaping the reward. Inculcate good eating habits by modelling good behaviour, offering fruits and vegetables as delightful treats and post-meal desserts.
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