Family with Young Children At Home Eating Meal In Kitchen Together

Why Family Mealtime is Important for Your Kids (And You!)

Do family meals often seem like an impossibility? Busy schedules can make scheduling family time difficult and meals can be a source of stress, especially with little ones. But it’s important that parents sit at the table and talk with children during meal time, regardless of whether everyone is eating at the same time or children are eating earlier than their parents.

While most people think of dinner as the go-to for family meals, it may be breakfast or even weekend lunches, depending on a family’s schedule. The important thing is to be together at the table and connect. There are many benefits for children who engage in frequent family meals:

  • Less behavioral issues
  • More likely to be a healthy weight
  • Better communication skills
  • Higher self-esteem
  • Perform better in school
  • Stronger family connections

Once you’re all at the table, conversation is key to reaping the great benefits above, so you should turn off or set aside any outside distractions (TVs, phones, etc.). Here are some conversation starters to get your children talking:

  • What was your favorite/least favorite part of the day?
  • What made you laugh today?
  • Who did you help today? Who helped you today?
  • If you could be any kind of animal, what would it be and why?
  • If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?
  • What makes you happy/sad?
  • What is your favorite book and why?
  • What can you do to make someone else feel better?
  • Go around the table and tell us your favorite thing about each person.
  • What are two things you are thankful for today?

Looking for quick, healthy meals that will give you more time around the table? Check out these five easy family recipes!

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About the Author

Ann Dunaway Teh is a registered and licensed dietitian. She is the founder and president of Dunaway Dietetics Inc., a nutrition consulting business, and has more than 15 years of experience managing and consulting with school programs, athletes, individuals, restaurants and hospitals. Ann is the mother of two precocious children who keep her on her toes and inspire her to create kid-friendly recipes on My Menu Pal, a healthy meal planning resource designed to help families eat better together.