Every household has their own rules of the table.
“No chewing with your mouth open.”
“Keep your elbows off the table.”
“Ask to be excused.”
But do you have any rules when it comes to food?
Here are my Top Three Rules of the Table in my house and why I love them (mostly for SANITY).
Take it or Leave it.
I don’t make multiple dinners in my house. Dinner is the one that I make, and if you don’t like it, you can leave it. Now, before you go thinking I’m pure evil, I always include SOMETHING I know my kids will eat.
For example…if I’m trying a new vegetable, I make sure it’s paired with a protein and grain that my kids will eat…or I’ll cook up two vegetables together. One they love, and one new one to try.
But my kids are never under the impression I’m going to get up from the dinner table and cook them an entirely different meal. Nope. It’s simply not happening. Three kids, and three after-school schedules? ONE DINNER.
The reason I love this rule is no unrealistic expectations. Kids come to the dinner table knowing what to expect. They try new things-they may not LIKE new things right away, but they try them.
Lead by Example.
If they’re going to try new things-then I better try new things too. Sometimes I’ll buy a new fruit or vegetable for everyone to try together. (I also keep my elbows off the table and chew with my mouth closed). Leading by example, through manners AND eating habits is crucial when kids are young. They’re learning everything from you! If your habits have slipped lately and you’re creating habits you don’t want you family to continue (eating in front of the TV, ordering in too much, etc.), then make a plan to change them and lead the charge!
This is SO necessary and although we slip up from time to time, it’s important for our kids to watch and learn from us – at any age.
Use Proper Language
I do not swear at the dinner table. But that’s not what I’m talking about (although probably a good practice). Using language such as “picky eater” can be detrimental to your children’s eating habits. If you continue to label your child, they will eventually become that label. Try your hardest to come up with nicknames you WANT them to inherit, such as “Vegetable Monster” or “Super Eater”. Even if you start off saying it sarcastically, it will eventually work its way into your everyday language.
This rule can be difficult to follow, but just think: If you’re constantly calling your child “shy”, or “picky,” or “difficult,” how are they going to aspire to be anything else? I’ve got some adventurous eaters in my house right now, even when they stick to what they like, day after day….after day.
Dinner time CAN be stress-free. With rules in place, everyone comes to the table with certain expectations. Remember, it might take a long time for them to stick, but you can do it!
What are the rules you follow in your house? How do you teach your kids manners? Do you cook more than one meal at dinnertime (no judgement, promise!)? Happy Dinner Time!
Seanna Thomas is The Nutrionnaire, a nutritionist and food educator who offers 10% off her online programs to Healthy Moms cardholders. Find out more about her services here: https://gohealthymoms.com/the-nutritionnaire