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Make Breakfast a Point of Connection and Calm
Developed by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka Ed.D. and Lynn Jessen M.A.
“Hurry up and eat.” “Come on, one more bite.” “What do you mean you don’t want this, you loved it yesterday!” “Stop fighting with your brother and eat.” “Do NOT throw food on the floor.”
Sound familiar? Breakfast can be a tough time of the day, but it does not have to be that way. With a few small changes, breakfast can become a joyful point of connection and calm.
- Ease the transition. When coming to the table requires an abrupt stop of play or shift from one room to another it’s likely breakfast will begin with a battle. The key to peace, is moving directly from dressing to the kitchen, no stops or starts in-between.
- Involve children in preparing the meal. Cross cultural studies have found that children as young as 9 and 10 years old are competently preparing meals for their families – without being coaxed or paid. The secret? They began helping in toddlerhood when their interest in doing what their parents were doing was higher than their skill level. But even if you did not begin involving your child as a toddler, it’s not too late.
Jobs can include tasks such as sweeping the floor, wiping the table –add a spray bottle and this is a FAVORITE task, cracking eggs, running a blender, or using a microwave. When it is time to sit down to eat, everyone is already in the kitchen. The transition to the table is easy and smooth.
- Establish a breakfast menu. Deciding what to eat can be a nightmare. Avoid this conflict by establishing a predictable breakfast menu. Select foods that everyone in the family enjoys. Include a protein, carbohydrate, fruit/vegetable, and fat. Then designate and post what day each menu item is served. You can keep it simple. A rotation of three or four favorites may be all you need. The children can then predict, if it is Monday we always have ... Your days as a short-order cook are over.
- Serve the food family style. Even toddlers can, with help, be taught how to ask for and pass bowls and serve themselves a spoonful. Suddenly sitting at the table is more fun and engaging. Studies also show that as the children pass the food, see it and smell it, the likelihood they’ll try it increases.
- Sit down and enjoy the meal with the children. Once the food is on the table, your job is finished. You can sit down, eat and converse with your children. There is no fighting over food. If your children choose not to eat, no worries, you will be serving another mini meal in two to three hours. If a bowl is empty, no need to jump up and re-fill it, simply offer something else that is on the table.
With a plan in hand breakfast can become a time of peaceful connection and calm. What a great way to begin your day.