Family Dinners

Q:  “It seems to me that there is a difference in behavior between the children in families who sit down together to eat meals and the children whose families do not. Is there any research that proves this?”

A:  Daily family rituals and gatherings build connections that provide children a deep sense of security and support. Even very young children benefit from sharing meals with their parents or caregivers.

The statistics show that the time families spend together has long-term positive effects on children’s behavior. A major study of 12,000 teenagers found that those adolescents who feel close to their family and school are less likely to:

  • Suffer from emotional distress

  • Have suicidal thoughts and behaviors

  • Resort to violence

  • Smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol or smoke marijuana

Other studies have found that eating as a family, rather than in front of the TV, reduces the risk of obesity and diabetes.

If gathering everyone for a regular dinner hour is difficult, however, you can schedule other regular family times. Focus now on establishing family rituals to maintain a close family bond as your child grows.

Disclaimer: This page is not intended to provide medical advice about your child. Always seek the advice of a physician, qualified healthcare provider or child-development specialist with any questions you have about your child's health, medical condition or development. Never disregard, avoid or delay contacting a doctor or other qualified professional because of something you read here.

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