Kids' Eating and Enjoying Family Dinner Time
How can I help my family relax and enjoy our family dinner time?
Good for you for prioritizing eating together as a family. It is hard to have family dinner go as well as we might like when children are young. I encourage you to focus on the quality of the time together, not the length of the meal. Hopefully, you can extend the length of your dinners over time.
Having special rituals to do together at the dinner table can help. For example, everyone could be invited to share one thing they are grateful for, perhaps as part of the blessing if appropriate to your tradition. Some families ask each family member to share the best thing that happened that day or perhaps the funniest thing. In my own family, with children ages 10 and 12, we rotate a "special plate" every night and each family member tells the person with the special plate something we appreciate about him or her.
It also helps to get children involved in some of the preparation for dinner, such as putting silverware and other items on the table, perhaps allowing them to pick the menu for dinner once or twice a week and help to prepare it (stirring something or putting lettuce in the salad bowl might work for younger children). This may involve more work for the parent, but also serves to increase the sense of enjoyment and togetherness about meals.
Research has consistently found that well-adjusted children and teenagers eat dinner together with their families on a regular basis. So once again, good for you!
More kids' eating and family dinner tips: