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Time With Your Kids
Sally Strackbein

Do you struggle with the questions:

How can I spend time with my kids so we all enjoy it?

  • How can they learn to be valuable citizens?
  • How can we have fun together?
  • How can I get my needs met?
  • How can I get the kids to help around the house?

The jobs we give our children to do are usually the demeaning jobs that we don’t want to do ourselves or jobs that don’t matter if they are put off forever. The children don’t get much of a sense of accomplishment from doing them.

    Do you feel good about yourself when you take out the garbage or do the dishes?

I didn’t when I was a child. I liked feeding the dog, because I got lots of positive feedback. She wagged her tail and let me know that I was really special when I fed her.

People need to eat as much as pets do. Someone has to either prepare the food or buy it already prepared. Fast food is expensive and it often takes more time than we realize to go buy it.

Kids can cook!

When my son, Peter, was about seven, I taught him to make crepes. I don’t remember why it was crepes, but he just loved them. Every Sunday morning for several weeks, he asked for permission to make crepes. He made breakfast for the whole family. We loved being served and he loved making a real contribution. As he grew, he discovered other wonderful recipes he liked to cook.

Someone has to shop at the grocery store anyway. We need to buy toilet paper, soap and milk. Instead of stopping on the way home when everyone is tired and cranky, plan an outing on the weekend. Plan to spend an hour shopping for food that everyone likes.

Let each child choose the food for a meal. Show them around the produce section. Be sure that they pick at least one fresh fruit and one fresh vegetable for their meal. Then help them prepare the meal they chose. Little children can choose hot dogs, lettuce and carrots and apples. Older children can learn to make spaghetti, spinach salad and berry pie. The goal is to have them prepare meals on their own eventually.

Early success is important. Using a rice cooker is a great way to start because it is almost impossible to burn anything in a rice cooker.

You will be pleasantly surprised at how proud they will be when they serve the family dinner.

    Sit down at the table and give the meal the attention it deserves and give the kids the attention they deserve.

Children who eat dinner with their families, do better in every area of their lives.

Kids can clean up too.

Let the ones who cook clean up the mess. They will learn to minimize the spill and mess as they cook when they are responsible for cleaning up.

Everyone will be happier.

My guarantee to you is that if you sit down to dinner with your kids several nights a week (every night is better), everyone in your family will be happier. Practice listening to what they have to say. Let each child have a turn to talk and to listen. Expect everyone to be polite to one another. This may take a while to enforce, but it’s worth it.

    When you treat your family as well or better than you treat strangers, friends or co-workers amazing things happen.

Try being positive.

Even the most rowdy child has good points. Try going around the table and have each person at the table say one nice thing about each other person at the table. It changes attitudes. It will change your life.

    Make your dinner time a regular time to connect with the people you love.


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Sally Strackbein is a speaker and author.
To find out more about her programs and services,
or call (703) 262-0361

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