Does your child not eat without the TV or phone Here’s what you need to do now!
If you are a parent, you would probably know how much of a struggle it is to get your kids off gadgets and limit screen time. While the pandemic has definitely increased the hours every child spends in front of screens, the biggest hurdle could be the one you face while making your child eat. If your child refuses to pick a bite of the food off the plate without staring at the television or their favourite show on the tablet, you know what we are talking about. Parents can find it difficult whether to let kids watch the television in lieu of them having food properly, or encounter crankiness at the dinner table.
Why should kids not eat meals while watching screens?
Many kids (as well as adults) have the habit of gulping down their food only when a screen is present. Not only are mealtimes supposed to be sacred and need to be a mindful habit, but distracted eating can actually shift the focus off of food or make your child overeat. With little kids, televisions and tablets can be distracting enough to not actually make them learn to have meals on their own, which is bad. Not to forget, any additional amount of screentime only adds to possible problems.
If you are trying to separate screen times and mealtimes, here are some ways you can keep distracted eating and the side-effects that come with it at bay:
Why Eating While Watching Television Could Be a Bad Idea
If your mealtime involves screentime too, then you must understand the potential problems it may cause. Here are some issues that may arise if you and your kids eat in front of a screen.
1. Overeating and Obesity
People tend to eat more while watching TV as they don’t really pay attention to what served on their plate and how much they should eat. As a result, they end up eating more. Eating too much eventually can lead to obesity. Children also overeat while watching their favourite cartoons. They may demand unhealthy snacks too which is a cause of obesity in children.
When eating food and watching TV, the brain is distracted and sends out the wrong signals to the body and does not process the taste or satisfaction of the palette.
3. Unhealthy Eating Habits
Children tend to develop unhealthy eating habits when they eat while watching their favourite cartoons on television or online. They gorge on unhealthy snacks while concentrating on the TV and soon munching on snacks while watching television becomes a habit.
4. Lower Metabolism
Watching TV while eating lowers the metabolic rate leading to the food being digested slower and the fat being burned slowly. If your child eats in front of the television and is not physically active, he is likely to have low metabolism.
Eating while watching TV can also lead to indigestion. When you eat, you are unable to process how much and what you are eating while watching TV. You may overeat as a result, which could cause digestion problems.
6. No Family Interaction
If everyone is more interested in watching TV while eating, the conversation that families usually enjoy during meals will not take place, and there will be less time for family bonding.
Tips to Keep Your Child Away From the TV While He Eats
Here are some tips on how to stop your toddler from watching TV while eating.
- When trying to stop your child from watching television at mealtimes, make sure that you are not distracted by the TV, mobile or laptop. Give complete attention to your child and keep the gadgets away so that he will know that mealtimes are about food and family, and lots of bonding!
- If your child already has the habit of watching TV while eating, you can get him rid of this habit with the trick we are about to tell you. The trick is to feed your child when he is really hungry, but not starving. When your child will be hungry, he is less likely to throw tantrums or ask for his favourite cartoon. You must ensure that that you do not allow his snack time to be too close to their mealtimes. If your child is really hungry, he will not be bothered about whether he has the TV in front of him or not.
- Take it slow with your little one. You can start by having a five-minute mealtime without TV, and then gradually increase the time. If your child throws a fit and does not eat enough at mealtimes because of no screentime, it’s okay. Don’t give in just yet. You can always give him a snack later, but make sure that it is not done in front of the TV. This will help break the association that your child has formed with eating and TV.
- Ensure that you have meals together as a family and that nobody watches TV or uses a phone while eating. By observing you, your child will learn that mealtimes are for family and that they should not use phones or watch television while eating.
- If nothing works and your child refuses to eat without the TV, you can consult a therapist or professional for help.
It may be hard to stop your child from watching television while eating, but it’s not impossible. Don’t let this issue become a habit. And if your child already has the habit of watching TV while eating, then wean him off gradually with the help of the above-mentioned tips. Remember that these days, our lives are very busy and mealtimes are the only way in which we really get to spend time with our loved ones and bond with them. So make sure you and your child enjoy your mealtimes together sans television and gadgets. A family that eats together, laughs together, stays together!
Read Here Benefits of Outdoor Play for Children
So I decided to make my kids dine without gadgets. I followed these amazing techniques to make our meals screen-free.