In this day and age it may be difficult to get the whole family together for a family meal however, this task can be complete with just one parent and the child if everyone else is busy. Additionally, family mealtime is not restricted to breakfast, lunch or dinner, you can do a family style meal as a snack.
Family mealtime is an important time that you are able to teach your child with feeding difficulties about the social experience of eating. We want this to be a fun and
positive interaction with food so make sure you are using happy, positive voices and faces. During family mealtime, your child is not the focus of the meal, the food is the focus. Talk about the sensory properties of the foods you are eating e.g. “Oh, this jello is cold and slippery”. This is also a great time to over-exaggerate the correct motor movements for chewing if your child is currently working on chewing food correctly.
Family meals should have a structured beginning, middle and end. This can been done by first giving your child a warning that it is almost mealtime and having them push their chair up to the table, this will signify the beginning of the meal. The middle of the meal is when you serve the food family style, allowing your child to serve themselves from a serving dish and eating the food. It is important to establish a clean up routine to let your child know the end of mealtime . During this time, have your child throw or blow a piece of each food item into the trash, move their plate to the sink and wash their hands.
Establishing a fun family mealtime provides your child with feeding difficulties a positive interaction with food on a daily basis. Please contact any of the feeding therapist here at TEAM 4 Kids if you have questions about family mealtimes.