10 Things Children Learn at the Dinner Table

Many people are so busy nowadays and are struggling to keep up with their crazy schedule that family meal times are rushed and infrequent, if they happen at all.  There is so much value to the family meal time that it needs to be made a priority.  Here are 10 reasons why. 

1.          Connection-Children are part of a family and gathering at meal times reinforces this and has a deep impact on children’s sense of belonging. It is also very beneficial to gather with grandparents (or older relatives) so that the connection between the generations is understood.

2.          Confidence-Research has shown that children who eat family meals on a regular basis each week are more confident, achieve better academically and are less likely to participate in destructive behaviors as teenagers.

3.          Civility-It is important to have good manners and the dinner table is an essential place to teach children to keep their elbows off the table, eat with their mouths closed, etc. (You remember those table prompts I am sure!)

4.          Conversation-Sharing our day’s news and learning to ask other family members good questions is the basis of effective conversation and can be practiced at the table. Of course, no cell phones should be allowed at the dinner table including those of the parents!

5.          Current affairs-Parents should take time to discuss some of what is happening in the world with their children.  Make sure to only share age-appropriate material and don’t add burdens to your children when they are too young to process them. 

6.          Culinary skills-Children should be encouraged to try different types of food, even if it is just a mouthful so they will be better prepared for the future and not be picky eaters.  Childhood obesity is avoided when families eat healthy food together at the table.

7.          Creativity-Children can help set the table, and be encouraged to add their own creative touch.

8.          Conflict resolution-Different members of the family will have varying ideas on many topics and can learn to discuss these issues courteously at the table.

9.          Cross-cultural understanding-I strongly encourage families to invite people from different countries to join them for meals. This provides an opportunity to expand children’s understanding of the world and teach them geography in the best possible way.

10.      Compassion- Jesus teaches us to not only invite those who can invite us back but to welcome the poor and needy to our table.  This is probably the most challenging part of true hospitality.  Each family needs to think this through for themselves, but inviting a foreign student, elderly person or tired, single mom and her children to join the family meal will teach children to show compassion to others.

Your thoughts:

  • How did family meal times impact you growing up?
  • What practical tips do you have to share that would help others to plan and commit to family meal times?

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