It may seem natural for adults to serve kids at mealtime. However, according to recent studies represented in this NPR story, allowing children ages 2 and up to choose what kind and how much food makes it onto their plate may get them excited about eating well. Even the youngest children can usually handle the responsibility of serving themselves as long as adults give them the trust and opportunity to try.
When parents have control of the serving spoon, the plates they make up for their kids – and the entire kitchen or dining room around them – is generally left tidier than if the kids had served themselves. But there are many good reasons to risk the mess. Children who serve themselves learn good eating habits like controlling portion size, enjoying trying new foods, and wasting less food left on the plate after they have had their fill – all without their parents needing to coax them into eating one more bite of broccoli. The key is to serve meals family-style, where all of the components of your meal are laid out in serving containers on the table and each family member gets to take a scoop of whatever they would like to eat. This mealtime method may take a little getting used to for both parents and kids, but the benefits make it well worth a try today. Happy dining!