The Joys of Dinnertime!

How many of you have dreams of sitting down to a quiet, sociable, enjoyable meal and then experience the reality of dinnertime with children?  If your dream becomes a nightmare, you are not alone. The idea of mealtime together may be a nice one, but the reality is far different.

Dr. Thomas Phelan, author of 1-2-3 Magic Parenting has 4 suggestions to improved- or at least, less stressful- eating:

A good plan for eating together starts with a good grasp of what eating and mealtimes are all about:

  1. Don’t take it personally! You are not the food you prepare, so if your children don’t care for what you cook up on a particular night, that should NOT be seen as a personal rejection of you.
  2. Kids have a natural ability to select and eat good things. However, this includes a strong tendency in preschoolers to be finicky. As many as 50% or more of this group are described by their parents as fussy eaters. Children will gravitate to sweet and salt, but not bitter and sour. Those tastes have to be more acquired over time.
  3. Because of their fussiness about food, toddlers and preschoolers need to be gradually introduced to—but not forced to eat—new foods. Some experts say that for foods like vegetables it may take as many as 15-20 exposures before a child will actually eat something like a new vegetable.
  4. Little kids are not particularly good at sitting at the table, but they will do this more easily when they are hungry. When they are full, however, the Three-Minutes-Per-Year Rule kicks in. Not hungry two-year-olds, for example, can sit still for 6 minutes; not-hungry three-year-olds for 9 minutes. Expecting more will get you in trouble!

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Then we add in the difficulties that many of our children with special needs have with the mealtime, making this much more challenging.  We plan to have a parent discussion with suggestions on this soon, so keep checking the calendar.