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Family Table Helpful Tips


There is no "right" way to enjoy a meal as a family.  Time spent together can be as structured or laid back as your family dynamic allows.  Below are some general suggestions:

* Turn off the TV and turn on some music.  Dinner is a great time to give a new music style a try.  Let each family member choose the type of music for a different night. 

*  Make dinner, or even breakfast, extra special by eating by candlelight.

*  Let your child (or children) plan the menu for at least one night each month.  Make it extra educational by having them research new recipes, find out the nutritional content and figure the cost of the meal. 

*  Have a theme night once a month.  serve foods from a different country or region. 

*  Let everyone talk about their day.  Try to keep the conversation positive;  if possible, don't use dinner time to discuss discipline issues.

*  If possible, don't answer the phone during meal times. 

*  Do something different and take the meal away from the table.  Have a picnic in the backyard.  Or if the weather is bad, set up a picnic on the living room floor. 

*  Share stories passed down in the family.  What child can resist stories of Mom and Dad as children! 

*  Use this time to teach manners but don't be so strict that mealtime becomes a negative experience.

*  No one is talking?  Think of a fun question to have everyone answer, or start a short story round (start the story and let each person add two sentences onto it).

*  Use the time together to plan some fun family activities.  Or plan your next family vacation. 

*  On occasion, dress up and have a fancy meal.  Set up the table as a fancy restaurant.  Encourage the children to practice their best manners.

*  Get the kids involved with the whole process;  meal planning, coupon clipping and sorting, setting the table, and meal preparation.

*  Don't try too hard!  Let the conversation flow naturally and enjoy the time with your family!

Do you have fussy eaters?  Let them help make dinner.  Kids are often more apt to eat something that they have helped make.  Even young children can help tear lettuce for salad or take a turn mixing batter.

Family enjoying dinner together

Offer food varieties and encourage your child to try new foods.  Don't make it a battle.  Children often require numerous exposures to a food before they want to try it.


Plan as many meals as possible in advance.  This will reduce stress at mealtime and usually encourage more healthy meals.


Try to eat at the same time each day.  Children do well with the stability of predictable meal times.



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