DARIEN, Conn. -- With busy lifestyles and conflicting schedules, getting the family together for a weekly dinner can be a difficult task. However, studies show that children and teens benefit from eating family dinners on a regular basis and may result in better grades, a healthier diet and a decreased risk of developing harmful habits.
Experts at Newport Academy, an adolescent treatment facility that operates a campus in Darien, believe that regular family gatherings can be a valuable tool in helping lower depression rates and create a more positive outlook for children. Instead of treating family dinner like a task, it's important to enjoy time with loved ones and make that time count.
To do so, Newport Academy shares several tips on how parents can make family dinner a fun, beneficial experience for their children.
Shut off technology and keep the dinner hour free of phones and other technology. "Show your kids that your focused time with them is more important than answering your calls or checking your e-mail," said Rachel Fortune, national medical director for Newport Academy.
Ask open-ended questions to give your children the sense that you’re open to anything they have to say. "Whether positive or not so much, asking open-ended questions means they're more likely to share what’s really going on in their lives," said Fortune. "Go around the table and have each person talk about one new thing they learned that day."
Tell your kids about your day. " Whether we work in or outside the home, it’s helpful for children to understand how we spend our days, why what we do is important to us, and how it helps provide for them," said Fortune.
Put dinner on the schedule. " Make family dinner a priority by planning for it a few days in advance and build in enough time to make sure the preparation process is pleasurable and you don’t sit down at the table feeling stressed and rushed," said Fortune.
For more information about Newport Academy or to find a campus near you, click here.