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How to Change Stressful Dinners With Kids Into Precious Family Time

How to Change Stressful Dinners With Kids Into Precious Family Time
    From CivilEats.com

    Meal times are one of the cornerstones of your daily routine. They can be the most joyous part of your day or the most dreaded part of your day.

    When you have small children it is very important that you be consistent and that they sit down to eat at roughly the same times every day. It’s also important that those times are spaced far enough apart so that your kids have an appetite for what’s put in front of them, but not so far apart that the run-up to every meal is marked by the kind of bad behaviour and irritability that’s triggered by hunger and low blood sugar levels.

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    Meals though, are not just about getting the right amount and type of food into your kids at the right time. They’re also occasions when your family can be together sharing news, talking over what everyone’s been up to during the day, sharing successes and disappointments as well as just enjoying each other’s company.

    My family also uses meal times to share how we helped someone or made someone smile that day.

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    In many families, meal times are not so enjoyable. Instead, they’re running battles to get kids to eat, behave, or just sit down at the table. How do you turn this scenario around so that mealtimes become one of your favourite times of the day with your family?

    The first step is to establish some ground rules. Here are seven rules that can help family dinners turn into precious family time:

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    1. Children should wash their hands before they eat.
    2. Children need to sit at the table and not run off.
    3. TV stays off during meals.
    4. Children need to finish chewing before speaking.
    5. No one answers the telephone during meals.
    6. Children need to eat nicely – no playing with their food.
    7. Children need to TRY something – if they don’t like it that’s fine, but they must TRY it. If they truly try something and really don’t like it then they are free to eat the side dishes.

    These rules are pretty simple which make it easy for you to reinforce. If your child breaks one of the rules, use this phrase:

    “Ella, (of course use your own child’s name here), you need to ________________ (finish chewing your food before you speak. We don’t talk with food in our mouths.)”

    The key words here are, “You need to” and “We”. These words teach your rules and values clearly and concisely but they also join you as a family instead of placing blame or belittling. When your child hears, “We” they hear, “Oh, yeah, that’s what my family does” instead of, “I’m bad again”.

    If your child continues to misbehave or break a rule after this reminder then you can use my 4 Step Discipline Technique.

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    A couple of other things to make sure meal time is relaxing:

    • Ease up. Gradually give your baby (child) the opportunity to experience independence because it’s what they crave. As soon as your baby can sit upright, without additional support, bring the high chair to the table. Let her feed herself as much as possible – with finger foods to start off with.When she’s big enough, give her a booster seat. Try not to make a 2 1/2 or 3 year old be stuck in a high chair drinking from a bottle or sippy cup – they are beyond this. It’s okay though to have a 2 – 2 1/2 year old wear a bib until they can show you they don’t need it, but try to allow them to practice being independent.
    • Use a speaking object, if necessary. Sometimes families, larger ones especially, struggle because everyone wants to speak at the same time. Decide as a family on what object could be used to show whose turn it is to talk. It could be the salt shaker or something more special like a shell someone found on a family holiday. Pass this object around to ensure that only the person with it in front of them is speaking.

    Use these tips and tricks consistently and I guarantee that meal times will become one of your most favourite times of the day!

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    Last Updated on July 10, 2020

    How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

    How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

    We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

    We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

    So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

    Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

    What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

    Boundaries are limits

    —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

    Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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    Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

    Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

    Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

    How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

    Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

    1. Self-Awareness Comes First

    Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

    You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

    To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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    You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

    • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
    • When do you feel disrespected?
    • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
    • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
    • When do you want to be alone?
    • How much space do you need?

    You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

    2. Clear Communication Is Essential

    Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

    Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

    3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

    Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

    That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

    Sample language:

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    • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
    • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
    • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
    • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
    • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
    • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
    • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

    Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

    4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

    Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

    Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

    Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

    We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

    It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

    It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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    Final Thoughts

    Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

    Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

    Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

    The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

    Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

    Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

    They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

    Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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