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​​​At the Table  Issue12345

How to Get the Whole Family Involved

Dinner is a wonderful time to teach children responsibility and reinforce their roles as vital to the function of the family.

"Helping with meal preparation makes children more appreciative because they see the work and effort that goes into creating the meals,” said psychologist Thomas Reimers, Ph.D., director of the Boys Town Behavioral Health Clinic. “They also get the message that mealtime is important because everyone is making an effort to be together.”

Include children in small tasks. Young children can set out napkins and count the number of forks, knives, and spoons needed for each place setting. Older children can chop, stir, or sauté. Everyone can work together to clear the table at the end of the meal, push in chairs, rinse dishes, wrap leftovers, and return condiments to the fridge.

The kitchen might get a little crowded when everyone contributes, but the culinary traffic jam is worth it. Mom and Dad get a little help, and kids learn that food doesn’t magically appear—it takes a lot of time and effort to feed a family. Instill this practice early, and it will become an easy and reliable part of your mealtime routine.

Dinnertime Activity

Fill My Cup

Hopefully everyone had fun working together as a team. Now, take a few moments to make those good feelings last:

  1. Give everyone at the table an empty cup and a small slip of paper for each person in the family. If you are family of five, then each person should have a cup and five slips of paper.
  2. Write a short sentence telling each person what you admire most about them (including yourself).
  3. Place each note in the proper person’s cup.
  4. Family members can share what’s in their cups or keep them private. ​Everyone should keep their cups and read the kind words as needed. Family members should feel free to add to each other’s cups as the years go on.

conversation starter​

If you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Coming up in Issue 5

Celebrate Your Mealtime Commitment


Remember, Wait Your Turn!


What Was Your Favorite Mealtime Activity?

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