This article was originally published on momminghard.com.
Life is rushed, messy and frustrating. It is easy to forget to sit back and enjoy the small things. We run around worrying about work, bills and just about everything else that we forget to simply ask each other “how was your day?” Finding the time to sit together as a family doesn’t have to be hard. You really don’t need to pencil family time in between grocery shopping and the online skype call you need to make at 2 pm. By simply eating dinner together around a table, you can fit in some really great family time.
There are so many hidden benefits of eating dinner together as a family. You might not see it, but eating together in the evening can help your children develop physically and emotionally. Having the half an hour to spend with you in the evening encourages development on many different levels. It also gives you much-needed bonding time.
Healthy eating – Eating together in the evenings is a great way to encourage healthy eating in kids. A survey done in 2000 showed that kids who ate dinner with their families in the evening ate more fruits and vegetable than those who don’t. They consumed less fast food and sodas. This allows them to consume and enjoy a diet that provides them with all the right nutrients and vitamins they need for optimal development.
Explore food together – Your child is much more likely to try new foods while sitting at the table with you in the evening. Encourage them to explore new flavors, textures, and tastes by offering a variety of foods. By eating these new foods in front of them, they will be happier to try them out as well. Giving your child an appetite for a wide variety of foods is a great gift for their future. This goes hand in hand with healthy eating. It also makes deciding on dinner much easier for you with less picky eaters around.
Track what they eat – By having them eat in front of you, you are able to track what they are eating and control their portion size. With both malnutrition and obesity on the rise, it is important to make sure that your child is eating a portion suited to their age. Along with portion control, you are able to make sure that they are eating a variety of foods and getting all their food groups in.
Keep your family close – Families that eat together, and enter open discussions over dinner, tend to be closer than those who don’t. By eating dinner together, you are allowing your children to easily approach you with anything they might not be comfortable with normally. When you have an open relationship between parent and child, the child is less likely to do anything the parent wouldn’t approve of in secret.
Keeping up the grades – Engaging in conversation over dinner time will help improve your child’s vocabulary. Chat with them on an adult level, teach them new words and get them to use their imagination to tell you stories. Get them to describe their day to you in detail. All of this increases brain activity, imagination, story-telling ability and memory.
Wind down – Everybody can do with a little bit of relaxation. Break away from your stressful day and forget work to sit down and enjoy a good home cooked meal with your family. Laugh together, catch up on each other’s day, discuss your issues and share your advice, it is the best stress reliever and its free!
Developing opinions – Give your child a problem or two each night. These could be made up, or problems that you encountered that day. Ask their opinion on the matter, and what they would do. This is a great way to develop their problem-solving skills and help them have their own opinions on things. You will also be getting them ready to face their own real-life issues down the line.
Dinner time together as a family is a great way to bond and encourage growth both physically, emotionally and mentally. It is one of the best ways to wind down after a stressful day and enjoy each other’s company. Why not get your kids involved in cooking dinner as well? There are endless skills to be learned in the kitchen, and this will get them excited to gobble up their food.
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