Want your kids to be healthier and better-behaved? A good, old-fashioned family dinner might be the best place start.
Children who gather at the dinner table with their parents and siblings enjoy a number of health benefits over their peers who do not, according to the results of a new study. And these advantages are quite significant!
On average, the kids who eat family dinners tend to be in better physical shape and ARE more socially-advanced.
Researches looked at a study that followed kids from the age of about five months until they were ten years old. In the study, parents began reporting on family meals when their child turned six.
When the child turned ten, the researchers looked at his or her well-being and lifestyle habits. They found that the kids who'd been eating dinner with their families drank less soda, got more exercise and had better social skills than the kids who had not.
I try to eat dinner with my kids as much as possible, and it's a great time to teach them new things and to learn from them as well. So here are my prescriptions:
- Have a consistent dinner time so that everyone in the family knows when it’s time to gather.
- Encourage kids to communicate at the table. Interaction with siblings and adults helps to improve social skills.
- Make sure the food you’re preparing is healthy! Kids learn good eating habits from their parents, too.
- Talk about your own day and the problems you may have faced. Then, tell your kids how you solved those problems. This will help them learn how to tackle their own issues in life.
Just because you eat together as a family doesn’t mean that dinner has to be long and complicated. Kids tend to eat quickly, and then want to move onto other things.
There’s nothing wrong with that. Family dinners can be fast and easy — it’s the quality time that counts. So don't drag things out if you don’t have to.