The Parent-Teacher-Child Connection: Dinner Drama Dilemma

Monday, May 16, 2011

Dinner Drama Dilemma

Do you constantly battle your children at dinner to finish their vegetables, meat, or everything on their plates?  Perhaps you should stop battling and start accepting that your children have likes and dislikes just as adults.  What would you do if presented with a plate of liver and Brussel sprouts?  Personally, I'd only eat the sprouts and leave the liver.  Other people would leave both.  Kids are no different.  Some like peas while others like string beans.  They know what they want and what they don't want.

That's not to say you should be running a short order kitchen, preparing chicken nuggets for the kids and cordon bleu for the adults.  Kids need to understand that variety at dinner will eventually make their meal times more enjoyable rather than a battleground.  How can you do that?
  1. Introduce new foods with tried and true that the kids enjoy.
  2. Request a "taste" rather than finishing the plateful of broccoli and meatloaf.
  3. Allow children to put as much as they can eat on their plates, with the request they try something of everything on the table.
  4. Accept that kids may take a full plate of mashed potatoes but only one small string bean.  It's okay!  they won't die of malnutrition.  Just remember to give them their daily vitamin pill.
  5. Occasionally give your kids guided choices about their dinner: "Do you want me to make meatloaf or roast beef tonight? (Provided you have both available!)  The occasional choice will make kids more agreeable to the less than occasional plate that carries no choices.
Battling kids with drama at dinner has been linked to eating disorders later in life, particularly during adolescence. Make your mealtimes happy places for kids to enjoy their food and conversation with the family!

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