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3 Ways to Bond Over Family Dinner

by Joe Lawrence | March 15th, 2016 | Preschool, Seasonal
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preschool dinnerFamily dinners are one of the best, if not the best, ways to bond. There is something about sitting down as a collective group that brings us all closer together. However, when you have a preschoolers or toddlers, it does not always feel like “bonding” as much as it does a survival exercise. There are a couple of things we can do to introduce some sanity to the process.

The family dinner has been a study interest for social scientists for many years. They have been exploring why families that eat together bond on different levels and seem to know what is going on in each others’ lives. One theory is that because everyone is sitting in a way that forces face-to-face and eye-to-eye contact with those at the table. It is hard to hide our emotions when our body language is telling a different story. “Why are you playing with your food, Sally? Is something bothering you?”

Even as a young child, they will feel like it is safe to talk about problems when they are convinced they have everyone’s attention. That is why step one is to provide an environment void of outside distractions. Turn the television off. All of the phones and devices are in bedrooms. This is a food table, not a work/play center. Our preschoolers are learning the norms from us. If we accept these distractions as commonplace, our children will too.

The next thing to do is to set the food out on the table. Instead of making plates for everyone and then running to the stove for each round of seconds, place all the food on the table. This forces everyone to work together and practice manners. “Could you please pass the potatoes?” This is where my family has room for improvement as we eat at the kitchen table instead of our large dining room table where there is more room. It turns into my wife and me being servants as we are constantly getting up to get something else for one of our children.

Lastly and most importantly, ensure there is time set aside each day to have a family meal together. Nowadays, we all have so much going on in our lives that even preschoolers have extracurricular events. It is almost impossible to have family meals. However, we need to carve time out of the day to make it happen. Even if we miss a night or two, we have to create a goal to have frequent family meals. So, if you are not having any meals together currently, make it a goal to eat together twice a week when the schedules align and protect those times as if they are just as important as Johnny’s baseball practice.

Eating family meals together is extremely important for the social development of our children and for bringing us together as a family; however, we have to make it a priority.

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