Meet the Khans! Emma and Zed are tackling dinnertime with toddlers at their home in the UK.
Emma and Zed, Zak (age 4) and Aniya (age 2). The family live in Whitby, North Yorkshire, UK.
As with most families we’ve met who are mastering a dinnertime routine with young children, Emma and Zed are keeping their goals simple and realistic. Currently they’re trying to work with Zak and Aniya to stay at the table rather than getting up and down while eating, a common challenge faced by many parents of young diners.
Adding to the mix of dinnertime difficulties is another common issue for young families: selective eating. Zak and Aniya are still developing healthy eating habits and, at 4 and 2 years old, are exactly in the age range when most picky eating occurs. Emma says that it can be challenging to support the kids in “eating good, healthy meals without complaining.” It’s another reason to work on keeping them in their seats, but as many parents can relate, keeping little ones happily at the table is even more difficult when they’re not always thrilled with the foods being served.
The top strategy for Emma and Zed can be summed up as “distraction.” “The games and tips from The Family Dinner Project have really helped,” they say, adding that they use table games to encourage Zak and Aniya to stay seated during meals. Conversation starters and fun activities help to distract the kids from focusing on the food, and limit the complaining as they’re more interested in engaging with their parents than starting a battle over what’s on their plates.
In addition to incorporating fun and conversation into each meal together, Emma and Zed have extended the fun on Sundays to make mealtime even more enticing for Zak and Aniya. During Sunday dinners, the family focuses on having a “family meeting” devoted to praising, complimenting and thanking one another. Then once the meal is over, they stay together for a 30 minute “Family Fun Time” during which they enjoy an activity chosen by the children. Recently they engaged in a Play-Dough sculpture contest, with 2-year-old Aniya acting as judge while Zak, Emma and Zed competed to make different types of sculptures. (We hear Zed won every round.)
While Emma and Zed serve a variety of foods to the family throughout the week, on Sundays they all enjoy a full roast dinner together. That meal tends to be a favorite, probably in part because of all the hard work they put into making the experience fun and special for the kids.
Through The Family Dinner Project, Emma says she and Zed have learned more about the importance of family meals and have gained plenty of conversation starter ideas to use with the children. “(The Family Dinner Project is) a wonderful resource that is really adding to our already close knit family life.”
The Best Part:
Simply put, “We’re all eating together and chatting and spending time together.”
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Tags: picky eaters, play dough, real family dinner projects, toddlers, waiting