Demanding days and picky eaters are but a couple of reasons why dinnertime can get stressful. Still, time together with the family is an important factor for health and wellness, both for you and your kids. Here are four ways to tame the tension as your family sits down for a meal.
1) Take the long view
With each meal, aim to include at least one food that your kids usually like. Think of their intake over the course of a week, rather than meal by meal, to alleviate stress that they aren’t eating enough of the “right” foods … or that they only ate cheese for dinner.
2) Plan ahead … at least a little
Even if you don’t map out every dinner detail, sketch which vegetables and protein are meant for each night so you have something to start with rather than coming up with meal ideas on the spot.
3) Serve family style
When you have strong-willed or picky eaters, build-your-own meals with optional toppings instantly defuse power struggles. Simply place all foods on the table and let each person decide what to put onto his or her plate—with no commentary, prodding or pushing.
4) Pick your battles
Have a kiddo who wants ketchup on a taco? Only wants to eat off of a certain plate? Let it go. Yes, manners matter, but some of the things that bug you during dinner aren’t essential when you take your own emotional reaction out of the equation.