Child & Family Development Child & Family Development

December 8, 2022

Reducing Stress During Holiday Meals

If daily mealtimes are a source of stress in your household, the thought of large family dinners and gatherings around the holiday season may seem overwhelming. Justine McEvoy, a Speech-Language Therapist at Child & Family Development, has some tips for helping to reduce holiday mealtime stress for YOU and your KIDS!

  1. Let them help prepare some of the food & they will be more likely to eat it! Here are some ideas for ways that your child can help prepare holiday meals.
    • Gather ingredients
    • Pouring the pre-measured ingredients
    • Mixing ingredients
    • Assign jobs, such as washing the produce or snapping peas
  2. Expose them to the foods before the holiday. In the weeks before the holiday or gathering, sample some sides or dishes that you know will be served.
  3. Provide choices of the new or non-preferred foods. Choice making lets kids think they are in charge and reduces the power struggle!
  4. Consider portion size. Offer or ask how much of the choice of food your child would like (i.e., big scoop or a little scoop). Small portions are less visually overwhelming.
  5. Always provide positive feedback! DO NOT draw negative attention to foods. For example, instead of saying “You’re not eating potatoes, do you not like them?” redirect attention to what they are doing positively by saying, “I like the potatoes, are you going to take a big bite or a small bite? I like how you tried them!”

Most importantly, DON’T STRESS! It’s only one meal during a very chaotic time. Be thankful, and let them enjoy those dinner rolls!

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