If there is one thing I would tell you to change in your family life which will benefit your children the most: Eat Family Meals Together.
Benefits of eating together:
• Children who eat family meals tend to eat a wider variety of foods and become less picky eaters. This is the best way to ensure that a child does not become a fussy eater. Varieties of food can to be introduced to them before the age of two and it should not be forced. Merely suggesting is enough. If a child does not like so and so dish, it should not be discarded, no special dishes should be made for any individuals. Children often need to see, smell, and touch a food many times before trying it. Offer new dishes with familiar ingredients and include dishes your child has refused in the past.
• It strengthen ties and builds better relationships. It builds a sense of belonging which leads to better self-esteem. It helps children feel loved, safe and secure. Not just that it increases sociability and social skills in a child leading to better communication skills as well. They learn about respect and become good listeners as well as speakers.
• Family meals offer parents a chance to be role models. They can set an example of healthy eating and polite table manners. Children learn the basics about manners and how not to embarrassed themselves and others by eating impoltitely.
• It helps prevent obesity. Research shows that people tend to eat less during family meals because they eat more slowly, and talk more.
• Decreases chances of the children developing psychological problems like substance abuse, eating disorders, depression and other issues.
Few tips for establishing meals together:
• Start with a few meals per week.
• Let kids help with the preparation.
• Make a list of easy meals to refer to when in a hurry.
• Even if you are absent for the meal make sure some other adult takes charge and makes everyone eat together.
• Remove all distractions like mobile phones or television. (if possible. Its better not to force it.)
• Parents decide which choices of food to offer the children.
I cannot stress the importance of this one HABIT. “Habits are ways of behaving which have become deep-seated, and are therefore difficult to change. Habits acquired in childhood tend to stay with you life-long.”