This simple act can help young children achieve higher self-esteem in their teenage years
Due to the demands of modern life, families often don’t get to spend much time together. With commitments to work, school, chores and extra-curricular activities, families spend on average just 36 minutes together each day¹. Even when families are together, they often aren’t making the most of it; 7 in 10 parents say they are not communicating with one another because they are distracted by computer games or are just too tired to talk.
It’s time families reclaimed these lost experiences because they are such a valuable part of childhood. Some of the greatest memories we have as adults were formed in the company of our mums, dads and siblings – the more experiences your family has together, the more memories your child will have to look back on. These moments also help form a crucial bond between family members, giving children that all-important sense of belonging and protection against mental health issues.
Meal times offer the perfect opportunity for families to get together and talk about their day. Having the full attention of their parents makes children feel important and loved² and encourages conversation. This helps children learn how to communicate with others, giving them valuable skills for building relationships throughout life, and can boost vocabulary as children learn from their parents and older siblings.
Conversation during meal times also gives children the chance to voice their thoughts, feelings and worries, allowing parents to provide support when it is needed and get to know their children as well. As children get older and more independent it becomes all the more important for them to have a good relationship with their family and time spent together helps build the bond that will keep trust and communication open. For instance, studies have linked regular family meals to benefits including lower rates of substance abuse, teen pregnancy and depression, better school performance and higher self-esteem³.
Additionally, through the simple act of eating together at a table children can learn table manners – such as how to correctly sit at the table, use the cutlery, or even put their phone or tablet down while eating – which are particularly important when away from home or visiting restaurants. Parents are the key role models for their children, so time spent together means that children can learn from their behaviour ².
“It’s good fun as well as helping me learn better table manners.” – Girl aged 11
“I like the activities on the back and getting higher points than [my sister].” – Girl aged 8
1 in 5 family meals are on the sofa, in front of the TV4, where children do not reap the benefits of talking as a family, sharing stories about their day, or learning proper table manners. Realistically it may be difficult to spend every meal time together, but making a habit of regular family meal times will truly pay off in the long run.
Our ‘Let’s Eat Together’ dry-erase placemat can help bring families together at the dinner table and encourage young children to practice their table manners too. On one side is a checklist with aims such as “I didn’t talk with my mouth full.” – this was really popular with our little testers who tried to score higher than their siblings! The other side has activities to inspire parents and get children engaged at the dinner table through family games, with no equipment needed.
Discount code ‘VCHART15’ will get 15% off purchases through our website.