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The Secrets of Family Dinner, with Bruce Feiler

Research shows that eating together brings a family closer and helps children develop. The problem is many Americans don’t do it.

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Transcript – If there’s one thing that all families have been told it’s have family dinner with your kids. And the truth is there’s a lot of research that says it’s great for children. The problem is that many people can’t do it. A third of us are not doing it regularly. Americans ranked 33 out of 35 countries in terms of having family meals together. But dig deeper into the research and it’s quite revealing and actually quite hopeful for parents. It turns out there’s only ten minutes of conversation in any mealtime. The rest is taken up with take your elbows off the table and pass the ketchup. But it’s that ten minutes that really matters. So if you can have family dinner, fantastic. But if you can’t you don’t have to feel guilty or doomed if mom has to work late or junior has a sports practice. You can time shift family dinner – another idea taken from outside families that can help families. So have family breakfast. For a bedtime snack at 8:30. Even one meal – one on the weekends can have the same benefits.

Let me mention just a couple of things you can do to reduce stress at the dinner table and a couple of things you can do to increase communication. First of all let’s talk about siblings who are fighting at the table, okay. Sibling rivalry is a huge problem in families. As the father of twins I certainly know that. And the research shows if you give your kids a task to do, say ten minutes before they come to the meal time, that will remind them that they can work together and they actually get along. And that will have a halo effect and carry over to the meal time and reduce stress. So actually having kids set the table or help you prepare dinner – even a few minutes before dinner can actually make the dinner itself less stressful and more bonding.

But the research clearly shows that families should spend less time worrying about what they do wrong and more time focusing on what they do right. So what can you talk about at dinner that’s gonna help your family. Here’s two quick ideas. One, play a game called bad and good. Have everybody go around, say what happened bad to them and then go around and say what happened good to them. And here’s the key. The parents should do it too. There’s something about the actual task of parents showing that they have problems too. That they have challenges – things that they’re solving in real time that gives kids confidence that when they have a challenge they can overcome that challenge also. Read Full Transcript Here: http://goo.gl/8swBAh

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