By Dionna Sanchez
Does your family mealtime end in a struggle of wills with your child regarding manners? Children are really smart when it comes to knowing where and when to exert a strong will. And isn't it always the case that by dinnertime we are a little worn down from our day and just want a nice, relaxing quiet meal?
I have a few tips for you to help your mealtime hour go a little more smoothly.
Problem #1) Your child isn't hungry.
Answer: Cut out their snacks! It is so easy for children to fill up on more fun foods that snacktime usually provides such as fruit snacks, granola bars, chips and the like. This also includes juice. So start eliminating in-between-meal snacks until they start to eat a better lunch and dinner. Also provide water instead of juice except at mealtime.
Problem #2) My child doesn't want to eat what I am serving!
Answer: I feel like you really need to figure out if they actually have a distaste for the food that was provided or they just wanted something else! There are several options here. If they really complain, don't set them a plate! I did this to my daughter Kayla once and she immediately protested and was willing to eat some food. You can be a little lenient if they actually don't like the food. I don't eat what I don't like so why should I force my children to? Alter the item a little for them and serve it as closely to what the rest of the family is having as possible; just eliminating the necessary ingredients for them.
Problem #3) Your child only eats half of their food and is hungry later or wants dessert.
Answer: For our family this is pretty self-explanatory. If we don't feel our children ate a good meal, we put their dinner plate in the fridge. They either have to finish it for their next meal or can have it later in the evening when they are hungry. Now this doesn't mean they have to clean their plates. You know your child's appetite and what is or isn't a good meal for them so use discernment.
Another thing we do is to withdraw the option of desserts and treats. Sometimes this is all that is needed to get a child to eat. After awhile they won't even need to talk about it but will just know what will happen if they don't eat a good dinner.
Dinner should be a fun, relaxing gathering as a family. Light some candles, eliminate excess noise, and learn to enjoy your dinner hour.
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