Author-Family_dinner- Family of four has dinner together. New USDA report examines the anti-poverty effects of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Photo: Thinkstock on flikr.com CC BY 2.0
One of the many benefits of eating dinner together as a family is it provides the opportunity for conversation. Mealtimes can give parents a chance to teach their children how to participate in healthy communication without interruptions from cell phones, television, and computers. By engaging children in conversation, parents can teach them how to listen as well as provide them with a chance to speak and express their own opinions. Family dinners also allow every member of the family to discuss his or her day and share any exciting news. Here are some tips from the University of Florida to help your dinner time conversation:
- Discuss the child's day. Express interest in your child's daily life.
- Discuss current events. Bring up news appropriate to the age of your child.
- Let all family members talk. Be an active listener and be sure your child learns to listen as well.
- Encourage your child to participate. Do not underestimate your child's ability to hold a conversation.
Family mealtime provides a sense of security and togetherness that helps nurture children into healthy and well-rounded adults. Studies have found that youth who participate in frequent family dinners are more likely to have a positive outlook on their future and understand and follow the rules and expectations set by their parents. They also have higher self-esteem and more motivation than children who do not eat dinner with their families. And they are less likely to smoke and participate in high-risk behaviors like drugs and alcohol.