Slowing Down And Having Dinner
Helle speaking today.
Do you love to travel? If you do, you’d probably agree that the world is still diverse and grand. As a Cultural Geographer (as well as a Waldorf Kindergarten Teacher) I have always been curious about the world. And I am so fortunate that I have traveled more than 50 countries as a Child Care Consultant, and I have been lucky enough to live with locals in each and every country that I’ve visited. I have shared literally hundreds of meals with hundreds of families. To me, the meal is where the culture of the family is most tangible and palpable, and it is a great place for involvement and creativity. We’ve already written about this earlier – right here.
The meal is not just about eating; it is also creating a fellowship around the meal. It is also a very important learning sphere for the young members of the family; there is so much basic learning for the child here, and I want to elaborate a little on this in a bit.
As said, there are still vast cultural differences around the globe. But I also see a global phenomenon that has increased over the last decade.
There seems to be a prevalent feeling of lack of time in families. There seems to be a higher level of stress and weariness in families than ever before. Surely, this affects the family meals too. It also affects the parents’ energy and focus to consciously see how important their own role at the dinner table is.
If you recognize the feeling of constanty falling behind, the best advice I can give you is this: Please. Slow. Down. You probably know where to start. Your children will love it, and my guess is, that most likely, you need it too.
You hold a great opportunity to feel present rather than disconnected and stressed out while spending time with your children. If you decide to slow down and create more time and space around your family – you will be surprised to see how much you can do to support your children in thriving, as well as becoming self-reliant.
Manners? They Matter.
When a little child around 1 year old can sit by itself, it can often start joining a regular family dinner as well. Having enough time as well as energy to gently teach your child manners at the dinner table, is a great place to start a loving guidance into life: it’s concrete, tangible and easy to grasp.
Bringing up children is really about transferring cultural standards and values, so they can take them in, interpret them and navigate in the world as they grow up.
And yes, it takes your focus and energy. You are important. It is not about rigid control, or about monitoring your child’s every move. It is about fully understanding the impact that you have as a role model.
In my view, all upbringing is actually about self-education. It is not about commanding good behaviour. So todays advice at the dinner table is about:
Teaching (Yourself) Manners
If you think it is important that your child stays during dinner, then stay yourself. Let the phone ring, let the ‘important matter’ be, glue your lovely behind to the chair for 20 minutes. That way, it’s much easier for the child to understand this rule. It feels why it is important, rather than just being told to stay, without really knowing why.
If you want to teach the child to keep its mouth closed while eating, then do it yourself.. Then you can kindly ask the same of him or her.
If your child is stuffing its mouth full of food and talking at the same time- then look at your own ‘bad habits’, and try to change them, before asking your child to take smaller bites, chew more – and talk after swallowing the food!
If you want your child to be able to use a knife as well as a fork, you have to teach it how. It’s a technique, and it is not born to master this. And make sure you use the knife yourself, so it can sneak peak and copy you, when it gets difficult.
If you wish that the child brings good spirit to the table, and is able to say nice things about the food, well then: make it a habit yourself, especially when others cook for you! And bring your own good spirit to the table, and honour it, while you’re together.
If you would like to see some appetite at the table, put the sweet responsibility on yourself: don’t give snacks half an hour or fifteen minutes before dinner. Being hungry is not dangerous, and letting the child wait for dinner is not neglect!
If you think that your child is “too picky”, and you end up telling your child off, ask yourself this question: would I like to be a guest at this table? How would I feel to be forced to eat? So, try this strategy instead: put little portions on your child’s plate, so it can overcome it emotionally. Put a little bit of everything on the plate, including the stuff your child says it doesn’t like, and don’t monitor or force your child to taste it. That way, in time, it will likely learn to overcome the obstacle of dealing with this unwanted ‘thing’ on it’s plate, and then one day, it will probably even forget that it didn’t like it!
So, at the bottom of this long post- we hope that you’ve enjoyed reading it.
We’re curious to know: how can you use the principle of self-education in your own life- at the dinner table and elsewhere in life?
Jump straight to the comment area right below and don’t be shy to share your thoughts.
We answer everyone who writes us 🙂
Helle and Anna