Teaching children good eating habits whilst they are young is extremely important as it paves the way for the future. From a very young age children copy their parents. They look for guidance in everything they do.
Mealtimes are no exception, you may think they are not watching you, but they certainly are.
Not only does sitting down with ones child at mealtimes help with their development, it also helps your child learn table manners. They will learn to sit down when they are eating and drinking, learn how to use cutlery, how to use napkins (rather than their sleeve), and of course the actual process of putting the food directly into their mouths and not on the floor or the walls.
The majority of people tend to lead very busy lives, however it’s extremely important to make the time to actually sit down with your child at mealtimes. If a child sees their parent sitting at the table calmly eating their breakfast, the child will copy this habit. The same goes for lunch and dinner.
If a child has their breakfast placed in front of them on a table and they can only see their parent running around grabbing a bite of toast or a glug of coffee, the child will think that is the norm, so they may completely refuse to eat their own breakfast when it’s placed down in front of them.
Not all parents are lucky enough to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner with their child, but for the mealtimes they are around just taking a little time-out to sit down and eat together will certainly pay off.
We can’t expect children to sit for hours at the table, especially if you have dinner guests or are having a three course meal, so once you are satisfied they have eaten enough always praise them by saying something along the lines of how proud you are because they managed to eat all or most of their meal. Don’t just let your child walk away from the table whether they have finished or not. Always try to be positive with your child, even if they have only managed a few mouthfuls, they may just be too tired to eat. Being a young child can be exhausting you know!
One final and important thing to mention is try to avoid giving your child snacks just before sitting down to a meal together. Many parents make this simple mistake and then get annoyed because their child won’t eat their meal which has just been prepared. It’s often not the child’s fault if they’re not hungry, it’s yours for giving them the snacks in the first place!
Remember if you teach your child whilst they are young to sit down with you at mealtimes it will certainly pay off. Your child will develop good eating habits and excellent table manners.
Picture Credit – Yarden Sach