Less battleground, more family time

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STEVE CANAVAN: The case of the 'kitchen' door is open and shut

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You may have heard the phrase: ‘The family who sits together stays together.’

This was the headline in a recent article I read online. It suggested that children who sit down and eat with their parents as a family tend to have a higher academic performance than those who don’t, and those children will also have better manners because they will imitate their parents when sitting together.

Of course, that’s not good if the parents have bad table manners. I may be guilty of the odd elbow on the table but I hope my table manners are of a high standard.

When I think about the perfect family meal time, I imagine us all sitting around the dinner table.

After shouting: ‘Dinner’s ready’ in a loud voice, the children would instantly stop what they were doing and arrive ready to enjoy some healthy and nutritious food.

Whilst tucking into the perfectly cooked meal we’d be bonding and connecting as a family.

We’d be chatting about the day’s events and sharing any news we’ve had. The mood would be relaxed and light but loving at the same time.

My daughters Caitlin and Alyssa would show perfect table manners and appreciate where their food came from.

Okay, I know I’m asking far too much from a one and two-year-old, but maybe they will learn these skills as they grow up and be thankful for what they are eating.

For now though, it is as far away from the perfect family meal time than what I imagine. In fact sometimes, meal times can become a bit of a battleground.

First problem is trying to get them to the table. Then Alyssa and Caitlin will sometimes squabble.

At other times the food and drink will end up everywhere apart from their mouths and sometimes they just want to be roaming around rather than sitting with mummy and daddy.

Caitlin has turned from a child who would eat almost anything into a child who wants to turn her nose up at some of the food in front of her.

But the good news is there are ways around this problem.

My parents tell me they changed the name of fish fingers to fish toes to get me to eat them and, oddly, it worked.

So when Caitlin didn’t much fancy eating her mash potatoes the other day I explained it was actually squashed up chips.

Like most kids, she loves chips and this convinced her to eat it all up.

Similarly she didn’t want to eat her carrots until she saw Rebecca Rabbit eat them on an episode of Peppa Pig.

Hopefully as they get older, meal time will be more civilised.

In the meantime, if you have found a way to get your kids to eat peas or cabbage, please let me know.