Inside you’ll read some very important dinner table lessons that have nothing to do with food. Read on to find some great lessons to teach at the table.
With 5 small children, I am at our flipping table all…day…long…
If it was cleaner and gave me a back massage, we’d be best friends. Ha!
Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks see us at the table all together. Aside from the nourishment aspect of meals, I’ve realized that there are many things that can be taught and learned at the dinner table, particularly when you have a captive audience ;).
Here’s what we try to instill in our children at the table. We don’t always succeed, but we try try again.
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At the table we teach manners. Here are some simple manners that we instill during mealtime:
- Asking for more requires “please” and “thank you.”
- They must ask to get down
- Saying “thank you” the person who prepared the meal is a great lesson to teach at the table
- When my daughter didn’t like part of her dinner she started saying, “I don’t like this dinner, mommy.” This lasted about one Mississippi before we taught a more acceptable phrase. “No, thank you.”
I can’t say my children would make a great impression at a formal dinner with their cutlery skills, but it’s a work in progress.
- Quick Guide To Teaching Table Manners To Toddlers & Preschoolers
- Got a picky eater? These 6 tips will solve it
- 5 dinner time hacks to simplify meals
Patience is a Lesson to Teach at the Table
Just because one child finishes quickly, doesn’t mean they get to jump up and run around like a wild child. We ask them to wait until everyone is done.
Of course this isn’t enforced 100% because some take a lot longer to eat, but we try to always make each child wait a few minutes longer than necessary.
Why? Torture? Mean mama? Maybe… But, I’ve noticed my children have a lot more patience than I give them credit for.
I’ll not say they sit with their hands in their laps smiling serenely like precious moments angels, but they get better with time and with enforced boundaries.
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The Art of Conversation
Boy howdy. While conversations with my 3-year-old and 2-year-old aren’t intellectually stimulating, they are most definitely entertaining.
Mealtime is an opportunity to tap into this great lesson to teach at the table. Ask your children creative questions, and to really get to know them.
I believe this “art of conversation” during mealtime is one that is dying in our society. Kids learn so much about communication skills and conversation habits during dinner with the family.
I keep a few books nearby when things get hairy. I will read question and answer books, a devotion, or something timely for the kids.
This also helps cut back on chaos because the kids will be quiet and listen. For a time.
They learn listening and question asking skills, as well as learning how to pay attention when someone is speaking. I don’t think active listening is an innate skill. If it is, I sure didn’t pass it down to my darlings.
Pull out these fun connecting questions to share some laughs with your precious ones!
Use them at:
- meal times
- car rides
- as a “calm down” trick
- for dinner time conversation
- or any time the day is getting chaotic or
- you need a reset to connect.
Food… where it’s from, how to get it, why it matters
I had a funny conversation once where I was explaining growing food to my little one. Then he said, “But food comes from the grocery store!”
Yes. Yes it does, after it comes from the ground or off a tree.
Mealtime is an opportunity to explain to kids how food is grown, how it helps our bodies, and about health in general. Instead of just cooking well then gobbling it all up, dinner is a great opportunity to talk about food in a much more well rounded way.
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The Importance of Togetherness
An important aspect of family life is spending time with one another.
The fact that people say their friends and church family are “family” is testament to the fact that we consider those closest to us in life part of our family.
It’s not always possible to eat together, but it is an opportunity to make memories and bond without having to add anything extra into the day.
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You already need to eat, so why not eat together? I’ve read time and time again of adults who say that dinner times with family are some of the memories the hold dearest.
Dinner times together are backed by research as some of the most important formative experiences for children. The food’s already made, so that stress is over, and I can just concentrate on getting to know my darlings.
Instead of thinking about mealtime as it as a bother (which, if we’re honest, it can be) let’s start to think of it as an opportunity… an opportunity to teach lessons at the table.