There are many ways you can help your child with their confidence and self belief.  Every day, each interaction provides opportunities for promoting positive thoughts, increasing confidence, boosting happiness.  Often, modern life is so busy.  As a parent you aren’t just looking after your child/ren you are running a household, working, caring for your own wellbeing, maybe caring for other family members too.

With all the rushing around, it’s hard to keep every plate spinning and shortcuts are taken.  We all do it.  You simply cannot do everything.  Family mealtimes are one thing that often suffer as a result of our busy lives.  It’s not unusual for the parent out at work to be home too late for a family meal. Children want to eat early, parents might not want or be able to so sitting down to a meal as a family group becomes a rare activity instead of a regular one.

Many studies have shown the benefit of eating a meal as a family.  There are obvious immediate health benefits; sitting down to a home cooked meal means you can include a wonderful variety of vegetables and fruits.  Portion sizes are controlled.  You can expose your child to different flavours and ingredients (they are more likely to try something new if they see you and others eating it).  During a study by the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2003, children were given pieces of red pepper to try and asked to rate how much they liked it.  Over the following week they were then invited to eat as much of the pepper as they liked.  On the final day they were asked again to rate it and the results showed more of them liked it and were eating more of it.  Exposure works!

You might be asking how sharing a meal as a family can increase confidence and happiness.  It might not be as obvious as improving what you are all eating.  Humans are social beings.  We enjoy company and interaction.  Sitting down to a meal as a group provides an opportunity to talk, to share and to listen.  Something which is hard to come by in our busy world.  We all like to feel listened to, children are no exception.  If they know you are interested in their life they will feel more secure about their place in their family and the wider world.  They can share their troubles and worries with you (so you can give them peace of mind or set a plan in motion) and their triumphs and joys too.  You will learn who they are friends with.  What their teachers are like.  What they are studying.  Much research has been produced over the years showing that children who eat with their families are less likely to become depressed, develop an eating disorder, less likely smoke, drink and take drugs, more likely to do well in school (listening to and conversing with adults increases vocabulary!) and feel content.  Studies also showed it can be quite a stressbuster for adults too!  Children are fun, they laugh a lot and encourage laughter in adults and we all know laughter is a great medicine!

Eating together as a family.  A great thing to aim for but not to stress over.  It might not be possible very often (or it might be something you already do a lot!) but when you can, do.  The benefits are clear.