Healthy Bites: Dinnertime Blues
Feeding children can be a demoralizing experience, especially with young children. But there is light at the end of the tunnel— with years of practice, children do learn to eat a variety of foods and mealtimes do get easier. Here are some strategies for survival:
- Be Prepared: Creating a weekly meal plan is a great strategy to reduce mealtime stress. It allows you to have ingredients on-hand, meat defrosted and left-overs on days that you know will be busy. Meal plans can also save you money.
- Come to the table hungry (but not hangry): Hungry kids are always better eaters. Sometimes poor behaviour at supper results from too much snacking after school.
- Overtired children: School can be an overwhelming experience, especially for young children. Add day care or after school activities, and it can be a recipe for disaster. Children eat better when they are relaxed and rested. Consider earlier meal times or reducing scheduled activities.
- Check-in with yourself: Stressed parents usually result in stressed children. If patience is gone by dinner time, find a strategy for self-regulation. This could mean enjoying a glass of wine, allowing yourself some space from your children while you cook dinner, or, worst-case scenario, locking yourself in the bathroom for five minutes of meditation!
- Try stick to a routine: Routine and consistency around mealtimes is another great strategy. When children know what to expect, and how they are expected to behave, it helps reinforce positive mealtime behaviours.