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At the Table

Setting the Table for Time Together

September 10, 2018     By Boys Town Contributor

At The Table, Family, Healing Families, Parent-Child Relationships

Studies have shown time and again that no matter what your family looks like, eating meals together strengthens bonds and leads to better communication and a happier, healthier family. How?

  • Healthier Food Choices
    Families that eat together tend to choose healthier options than those that eat on the go or dine alone.
  • Proper Portion Control
    Designated dining times and areas lead to more mindful eating, which naturally leads to better portion control and less over-eating. When you actually take the time to eat, you can better recognize when you've eaten enough!
  • Better Grades
    A study has shown that children who ate five to seven meals with their family each week were twice as likely to earn A's and B's in school. Only 9% of the children in the study who dined with their family struggled with their grades.
  • A Greater Sense of Security
    Whether or not your children talk about their day, their problems or their homework at the table, creating an atmosphere where they feel safe and comfortable doing so lets them know they can talk to you if they need to.

Getting everyone excited to eat at the table together might sound about as pleasant as pulling teeth. But we have some ideas to make it easier for you and more enjoyable for them! Team building starts at the table. Let's have a seat!

3 Steps to Having Your Kids Set the Table

The thought of setting the table may seem daunting to kids, but it doesn't need to be a high-anxiety situation! From toddlers to teens, setting the table is a task most children are capable of doing. Whether you're going all-out with a four-course, French-inspired feast or just serving your famous peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches, getting your kids involved in setting the table and then sitting down to eat together can elevate any meal into a special night for your family!

Help Them Help You!

3 Steps to Making Setting the Table a Breeze:

  1. Set out all the items that need to be put on the table in a place where your children can reach them. Depending on what you're having, this can include plates, silverware, glasses, napkins, salt and pepper shakers, and salad bowls. (Don't let younger children handle items like steak knives or breakable items.) Once your helpers get familiar with the items needed to set the table, they'll be able to gather everything by themselves.
  2. Help your children practice putting the items in their proper places on the table. It may take a few practices before they remember where everything goes, but have patience and work with them for as long as it takes.
  3. When it's time to get ready for dinner, gather the kids five or ten minutes ahead of time and have them set the table. Besides helping with the meal, this will get them in the right mindset to enjoy dinner and family time together.

"Helping with meal preparation makes children more appreciative because they see the work and effort that goes into creating the meals," says psychologist Thomas Reimers, Ph.D., Director of the Boys Town Behavioral Health Clinic. "They also get the message that mealtime is important because everyone is making an effort to be together."

It's not always going to go smoothly, but the more often your kids help out, the more it will become part of their routine. And the more it becomes part of their routine, the easier it will be to bring the whole family together during mealtime.

Finally, bring a big helping of your patience and attention to the table. Children will be more likely to talk if someone is truly listening, and they'll truly listen if they feel they are being heard! Bon Appetite!

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