Dinnertime with your family is supposed to leave you feeling relaxed, full and content. But add a few little kids to the mix and you are liable to walk away from the table feeling frazzled, hungry and frustrated. When your little ones refuse to eat, dinnertime seems more akin to torture than a blissful family gathering. But could you be making mistakes that add to the craziness? See if you are breaking any of these cardinal rules:

  1. No toys at dinner. My two-year-old likes to bring a stuffed animal and a few My Little Ponies to the dinner table, but lately I’ve been cracking down on this habit. While it’s cute to see her set up her little friends at the edge of her highchair tray, she often spends more time playing than eating. And dinnertime is for eating, not for playing.
  2. No i-Phones at dinner. If your kids can’t play at the table, neither can you! You are hardly setting a good example for your children if you are surfing your Twitter feed while you eat. Focus on the food and conversation, not on social media.
  3. No asking the kids what they want for dinner. An old saying goes that one shouldn’t ask what kids want for a meal unless they themselves will be preparing it. While it’s okay for kids to make serving suggestions, show them who is in charge at dinnertime and ask them to eat whatever you prepare. You aren’t a short order cook and more importantly, your children should learn to eat what you serve.
  4. No bribing. “You can have a brownie if you eat a good dinner.” While this may be the easy way to get your children to clean their plates, bribing them forms bad habits. Kids should eat because it’s dinnertime, not because there is a cookie at the end of the rainbow.
  5. No TV. This one should be obvious, but even if there is a cartoon on in the other room, my four-year-old will crane her neck to see it instead of focusing on her meal. Turn all TV’s off at dinnertime, throughout the house!

What other dinnertime rules do you have in your home?