Benefits of Family Meals for Kids
Why do family meals matter?
There’s nothing quite like sharing a meal as a family. In today’s busy world of schoolwork, soccer practice, and music lessons it can be tempting to let family meals slide.
However, as few as one to two family dinners a week can:
- Strengthen family bonds
- Improve communication and interpersonal skills
- Encourage a healthy relationship with food
Use dinner as a time to connect with family members and learn about the things going on in each other’s lives. This increases the family bond while helping kids develop communication and working memory skills. Each time they have to recall what’s happened throughout their day, they’re using working memory. Sitting quietly and listening to other family members share about their day improves kids’ listening skills as well.
Improve Communication Skills
Kids don’t always know how to respond when adults ask how their day was. It can be tricky to answer that question when so many things happen in one day. Kids might be frustrated by one subject at school, but absolutely delight in the book they’ve picked for silent reading, and then get nervous during a fire drill at the thought of there being a real fire, and… You get the idea. It’s too hard to answer such a broad question!
Instead ask kids more specific questions. Try asking:
- When did you feel proud today?
- What did you do to help a friend?
- At any point today did you feel frustrated? What were you frustrated about?
Questions like these will help your child open up and learn how to express themselves. Knowing the right questions to ask is key to starting conversations and opening the lines of communication. Responding to these questions is a great way to develop language skills!
Relationships with Food
Eating together as a family helps kids develop healthy eating habits early on. Eating together increases understanding of what balanced meals look like, proper portion size, and how to make healthier food choices. When you sit down to a meal and your kids see you eating broccoli or other vegetables they learn that eating vegetables is expected or normal.
Family time is important for a child’s self esteem. Family meals are a great chance to spend time together, build stronger bonds, and help your child feel supported. The best part? You can share this time together every day! Learn more benefits and tricks to having a family dinner from the AAP.