Video from BigThink.com
The dinner table can be one of the best places to bring your family together. Eating together with your whole family is a wonderful experience, and can bring great discussion, or humor to everyone attending.
Research shows that eating together brings families closer and helps children develop. Bruce Feiler, one of America’s most popular voices on family, faith, and survival explains how you don’t necessarily need to all sit rank and file, elbows on the table, in order to experience the benefits of sharing a meal. The secret is communication.
Bruce Feiler writes the “This Life” column about contemporary families for the Sunday New York Times and is the author of five consecutive New York Times bestsellers. For his new book The Secrets of Happy Families, he sought out the most creative minds from Silicon Valley to the country’s top negotiators, from the set of Modern Family to the Green Berets and asked what team-building exercises and problem-solving techniques they use with their families. Feiler then tested these ideas with his own wife and kids.
Specific Benefits of the Family Dinner
According to thefamilydinnerproject.org, some of the specific benefits of family dinners are:
- Better academic performance
- Higher self-esteem
- Greater sense of resilience
- Lower risk of substance abuse
- Lower risk of teen pregnancy
- Lower risk of depression
- Lower likelihood of developing eating disorders
- Lower rates of obesity
The dinner table is the best place to establish proper eating habits for your children. Home cooked meals are typically more healthy than eating out. Providing a healthy and positive experience during home cooked meals are essential to creating an overall positive outlook on foods themselves.
Engaging Your Children In Conversation
By engaging your children in conversation, you teach them how to listen and provide them with a chance to express their own opinions. This allows your children to have an active voice within the family.
Conversations at the dinner table expand the vocabulary and reading ability of children, regardless of socioeconomic status. Family dinners allow every family member to discuss his or her day and share any exciting news.
These tips from The Importance Of Family Dinners will be useful when encouraging conversation at the dinner table:
- Discuss the child’s day. Express an interest in your child’s daily life.
- Discuss current events. Bring up news that’s appropriate for your child’s age.
- Let all family members talk. Be an active listener and be sure your child learns to listen as well.
- Encourage your child to participate. Do not underestimate your child’s ability to hold a conversation.
Encourage Your Children To Eat New Foods
New and exciting foods can bring a lot to dinnertime conversation and the development of your children. You can find recipes just about anywhere on the internet nowadays from countries all over the world. You can also have a bit of history and geography lesson as your introducing the new foods.
Encourage your children to try new foods, without forcing or bribing them. Introduce a new food along with some of your normal favorites. Remember that it can take 8-10 exposures to a new food before it is accepted, so be patient.
Include foods from other cultures and countries or select a new vegetable from a local farmer’s market. Maybe have your children select a new recipe from a cookbook, website, newspaper, or magazine.