How to Make Mealtime Easier

Do you struggle getting your kids to eat at mealtime? What about getting your kids to try new foods? If you want to know how to make mealtime easier for the entire family, this is one podcast you don’t want to miss!

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Amy McCready is the founder of Positive Parenting Solutions and the author of If I Have to Tell You One More Time. She is a regular parenting contributor on The Today Show and has also appeared on Rachael Ray, CBS This Morning, CNN, Fox & Friends, MSNBC, Steve Harvey, and elsewhere. Her most important role is playing mom to two teenage boys.

The free webinar I mention in the podcast that has helped me tremendously with my kids is called “How to Get Kids to Listen without Nagging, Reminding, or Yelling,” and it can be found here.

Amy, who describes herself as a recovering yeller, talks to us today about how to end mealtime battles. She has helped me so much, and I’m excited to have her on the show.

Young children have very little control over their lives. There aren’t many areas in which kids have legitimate control. Eating, sleeping, and pottying are the classic three, so mealtimes are ripe for power struggles. Most of us have tried many ways to get our kids to eat or try new foods. Do they work? Do they make things worse? Amy tells us what we might, without even realizing it, be saying that can actually set up the power struggles.

Amy describes the keys to stopping these power struggles, based on a concept from Ellyn Satter. What are our responsibilities when it comes to feeding our children? What are theirs? Do young children bear some responsibility for their own relationship to food? The answers might surprise you!

Many parents notice that at around the age of 2, children suddenly seem to become much pickier. Amy explains the biological reasons for this and how to avoid having this change become the setup for food battles. She also talks about why children often seem willing to try new foods at preschool, for example, but not at home. And will kids really eat when they get hungry? Is it okay for them to skip a meal if they just don’t want to eat?

We all want to avoid being a short-order cook for the family, but how do we get kids to eat what we make? Amy gives us six specific tips on making this happen. She also reinforces the idea that we need to stop putting so much pressure on ourselves. Amy believes that if we could make dinner more about connecting with family than about the food, we’d be much better off. If we can make dinner pleasant, we can let go of some of that mom guilt.

Amy reminds us that children as young as toddlers can make meaningful contributions in the kitchen, but that doesn’t mean you have to let them try to crack the eggs when it’s 6:59 pm, and you wanted dinner to be at the table 15 minutes ago! She has some suggestions for things kids of different ages can do to actually help, rather than hinder, getting the meal on the table.

Finally, Amy tells us what changed the dynamics of mealtime at her house, and how she stopped dreading each meal. Spoiler alert: It’s all about connecting with your family.

Links to items discussed during this show:

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About MOMables

Laura Fuentes is the founder of MOMables and a mom to 3 kids. She's the Author of 3 cookbooks, has competed (and won!) on Food Network, is a TODAY Food contributor, has a column on the Huffington Post and creates recipes for numerous print magazines. She also produces recipe videos for the MOMables YouTube Channel.