10 ways to tame dinnertime drama

Meals turning into drawn-out battles? Here’s how to restore some peace to the kitchen table.

Photo: iStockPhoto

1. Post a meal plan
Kids often push back against meals because they weren’t expecting them. Get kids involved in creating a meal plan, then post it on the fridge, so they can see what’ll be on their plate each night.

2. Go no-tech
Turn off the TV and banish all devices from the table. Turn on some music and, trust us on this one, light some candles. Instant atmosphere!

3. Put a friend on the plate
Serve up a favourite dish alongside a new recipe. That way dinner won’t look so daunting, and you know there’s something they’re willing to eat.

A little girl sits in front of a bowl of cereal with her ears coveredWhat to do when your toddler won't eat 4. Don’t talk about food
Commenting that they haven’t yet touched their cauliflower only ratchets up the battle of wills. Share a story from your day, or ask your kid for the silliest thing someone said in class—anything but, “Just one more bite.”

5. Repeat faves
You might think that making chili once a week equals a rut, but if your kids tuck into it, it’s a win.

6. Make rituals
Taco Tuesdays, pizza Fridays and dessert-first Sundays are just a few traditions you can start. They’re fun, they reduce the mental space taken up by thinking about dinner, and you might be able to squeeze a new veggie into that tortilla.

7. Embrace self-serve
Letting kids help themselves gives them a sense of control. A kid might not touch the salad for six months, but if you keep offering it, curiosity will eventually win out.

8. Manners matter, mostly
Let your kids know what’s important to you—saying please or no burping at the table—but try not to use time at the table to non-stop nag. You’re in a long game here, and manners take time to develop.

9. Find a sweet solution
Decide what your dessert policy is—once a week or something small every night—and stick to it, regardless of how much they eat. You don’t want to sell the notion that dessert is the only thing worth eating dinner for.

10. Close the kitchen
Let your kids know you aren’t their short-order cook. As in, “You don’t have to eat the rest of your dinner, but be sure you’re full, because the kitchen closes at 6:30.”

Read more:
5 reasons why your kid isn’t eating lunch at school (and how to fix it)
You won’t believe the one simple thing that FINALLY fixed my kid’s picky eating

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