By Amy McCabe, Special Care Nursery Nurse and Center for Community Health & Wellness Educator, Lowell General Hospital
Traditions we teach our children can last a lifetime and are worth preserving. With Thanksgiving right around the corner I got to thinking about family, traditions and, well, food!
Interestingly, I attended a Baby Basics class a few weeks ago given by one of Lowell General’s physicians. He offered some wonderful tips and a few were directly related to time spent around the dinner table. I thought they were worth sharing…
Dinner should be a relaxing and enjoyable experience each day for families. Everyone – parents and kids alike – have very busy lives, especially in this day and age. Dinner should be a time when we put all the business and stress aside. Spend those 30-45 minutes talking about the lighter and positive aspects of the day. Shut the cell phones off (or at least set a rule of no calls or texts!) and just talk (I know, an antiquated concept!)
Kids Will Eat What You Eat
Too often, as parents, we are always trying to please our kids and meet their every whim and request. As it relates to food and diets, setting a good example can lead to healthy eating habits over a lifetime. If parents set the example of eating healthy, as often as possible, kids will follow suit. Conversely, if the theme of dinner seems to be fast food more often than not, your kids will certainly follow that pattern. To resist the temptation of poor food choices, limit the amount of unhealthy food and snacks you keep in the cupboard. There is a reason we have a childhood obesity problem in this country!
Kids Choice Night
While eating healthy is very important, you can set aside a “kids choice night.” One day each week the kids decide what is for dinner. Whether it’s pizza, burgers or PB&J sandwiches, the kids decide and EVERYONE enjoys that choice. This ritual is another great way to reward the kids for eating well all week. And it’s a fun family tradition to start!
I am sure all of the above sounds great, but is it practical and reasonable? Every family is different and I am sure many of you have picky eaters (I know I do!). With that said, I think these are great general guidelines that hopefully get your family on the right track so that dinner time is a pleasant and fun experience for the family.
For more information about many of the great classes that Lowell General offers, go to www.lowellgeneral.org or call 1.877.LGH.WELL.
Happy Thanksgiving to all!