Author: Isabel Sosa Whitelaw
One of our main responsibilities as parents is to keep our kids well-fed and nourished. Unfortunately, many children have a hard time at the dining table. There are many ways that Montessori parenting can help! Here are three tips to take the stress out of mealtime.
1. Get your child involved
Children want to feel close to you! Remember that they are always watching your behavior and will want to mirror your actions. Young children are inclined to contribute, no matter what you're doing. Also, if you involve them in meal preparation, they will be better equipped to cope with you interrupting whatever action they were engaged in before. One simple way they can help is by pouring water. Ask them to fill the glasses around the table with using a water vessel with a lid to prevent spills. Show them how to pour the water with care. Ensure that they have napkins to cleanup any spills.
2. Remind of predetermined boundaries
If you don't have any boundaries around mealtime with your child, take some time to brainstorm and write down some thoughts. Depending on your child's age, these can be framed as hard-fast rules or suggestions. These can be, "try a bite of everything", "use your inside voice", or anything you're struggling with. Once you've decided your rules, sit down with your child and go through them before mealtime. As you sit down at the table for your meal, declare the rules and discuss them again as a family. If your child breaks the rules, give them a reminder but be firm.
3. Set an early dinner-time
You might want to wait until later in the day to eat so that everyone in the family can eat together. It's important to share meals as a family, however, waiting until your child is tired to eat can add to the stress of dinnertime. Eating at 5pm can help keep the peace, and as your child gets older you can push the time back gradually.
These simple practices can set a solid basis for mealtime with your child. Soon enough, you will be able to look forward to making and sharing meals with your children, worry-free!