Set standards for a pleasing mealtime environment

Fussy children can make mealtimes a struggle. Here’s a few tips on how to make things at the table run smoother.

“That food looks yucky” or “I’m not eating that!” may be words you hear come from the mouth of a child when it comes to mealtime. Sometimes we may even hear those words uttered from the mouth of an adult.  Setting rules or standards for your kids when it comes to meal or snack time is very important.

Mealtime guidelines don’t need to be posted on the refrigerator. These rules are learned best by example. Positive mealtime conduct requires good examples and consistency. Michigan State University Extension suggests the following tips to help create a pleasant mealtime environment for your family.

  • Limit snacking between meals
  • Allow children water to drink between meals
  • Offer small, portioned amount of new foods
  • Role model by selecting healthy food choices
  • Offer the same meal to everyone
  • Get children involved in mealtime preparations, like setting the table
  • Turn off the technology (cell phones, TV and computers)

Children that are able to help make mealtime choices and help prepare the meal or table are more likely to try new things. When they do, children become engaged in mealtime and are able to develop a sense of pride and ownership over the meal.

Although kids will be more likely to try new things, it is important to know that new foods may need to be offered multiple times before they are accepted. Children are also less likely to complain about a meal that they helped prepare.

Keep the above tips in mind and hopefully you will be successful at creating a pleasant mealtime environment. This enjoyable environment at mealtime is learned by example. That example will be passed from one generation to the next, so small changes can make the world of difference in creating a pleasing mealtime environment for families.

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