“Chew with your mouth closed.”
“Take a bite of broccoli.”
“Don’t spit that out!”
“Keep your bottom on the chair.”
“Don’t talk with your mouth full.”
“Use your fork.”
“Try it. I know you’ll like it”
“COME BACK TO THE TABLE!”
Does this sound familiar? This is a fairly common mealtime soundtrack, one that I catch myself falling back into regularly. The other thing I’ve noticed is that the more instructions I give, the less likely my children are to respond. When I try to take the perspective of my children, it’s no wonder they don’t want to be at mealtime.
This time that is supposed to be about nourishment and social interactions actually can feel pretty negative and not fun. It’s a constant conscious effort to change my own behavior at mealtimes, especially after an exhausting day. While it isn’t easy, I’ll be the first to tell you it is very much worth it. So, here are some ways to be more thoughtful about mealtime related instructions to improve the experience for everyone.
I’m going to challenge you to track the instructions you give at the next few mealtimes. Pay attention to your child’s responses. Then, try the above strategies and note the difference it makes for both you and your children. Is mealtime starting to feel more enjoyable and less stressful?