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February 13, 2014

Make Dinnertime Be More than Food

With the Doodle Bugs! Standard of the Week focusing on mealtimes, we thought it a good time to remind parents that their own mealtimes can be more about food.117_4858_2160

Easier said than done, right? For working parents, mealtimes during the week can often be a time of high stress; between preparing the meal, ensuring your child eats—without it taking all night, and promoting good manners. However, just as adults use meals to socialize with friends, parents should try to look at mealtime as more than just a time for food.

According to Christina Fecio, director of education and training, meals are a great time to ask open-ended questions or to just be silly. This is a great way to introduce children to real world social interactions—manners, trying new foods—as well as the joy of just being together.

Fecio offers a few tips for parents in navigating the mealtime pleasantries:

Breathe. Yes, that’s it. Take a step back from forcing her to eat and realize it’s your time together after all day apart. Don’t think about what’s next, bath time, the laundry you have to do, etc.

Ask questions. What did you do today at school? What was the book about that you read during circle time? What do you want to do this weekend? Show her that you should have conversations over dinner.

Find out what’s appropriate. Have a conversation with his teacher ask what manners they are working on at school. Or bring it up during parent-teacher conferences. Knowing what’s age appropriate will allow you to have realistic expectations on manners and encourage him.

Make it a joint effort. Have him help make dinner or set the table or clean up if there’s a spill. This allows him to be more invested in mealtime, gain independence and fosters a positive atmosphere.

Of course, it’s completely normal to be worried about nutrition and how much—or what—your child is eating. Fecio recommends this book by Ellyn Satter, a family mealtime guru: How to Get Your Kid to Eat, But Not Too Much.

For more information on the Doodle Bugs! programs or our nutritious menu, please visit www.doodlebugs.com.