Have a child who can be a picky eater or slow to try new things? Check out this game idea to stop the fights at the dinner table.
I have 2 young children who at times don’t want to eat, don’t like what’s being served, or can’t bear the thought of sitting still at the dinner table to eat a meal. Sound familiar? Then you may want to try out this simple game idea.
One evening while I was getting dinner put together both of my children started complaining about not wanting to eat what I was serving. Instead of giving in, I decided that I would try to engage them in an activity and encourage them to eat as well. Insert Candy Land! I discovered that Candy Land was a game that was simple enough for my 3 year old but still fun enough for my 6 year old to play as a family. My husband and I played along with them in the game with specific rules to get them moving through the board and getting the food into their mouths at the same time. We tend to have at least 3 items on the menu each night for dinner and as with many children they have favorites and then some foods that they will eat as little as possible of.
Here’s how we played:
Each item on their plate (including their drink) counted as a certain number of moves on the game board. When they took a bite (or sip) of anything they were allowed to move that number of spaces on the game board.
Drink- 2 spaces
Vegetable- 8 spaces
Fruit- 2 spaces
Main Meal Item- 5 spaces
Bread or other side- 2 spaces
As you can see, fruit and bread are more favored but I still wanted them to feel that they were moving in the right direction when choosing those items. My husband and I both played with the same rules as them.
It only took a few turns to remember the number of spaces for each item and they got excited counting out bites for their parents. My son has a bit of competitiveness in him (and my daughter loves doing what my son does) so it became a hit pretty quickly! Whoever got to the end of the game first then became the “mentor/cheerleader” for the rest of us, giving us tips “like eat your veggies because you’ll move up the board faster!” For the first time that week dinner time was full of laughter and not tears and meltdowns.
My husband and I try to take on a positive parenting approach allowing our children to make their own choices while also recognizing any natural consequences. By bringing a game to the table it allowed our children to see the progress they were making and that by making healthy choices they would go farther. We talked and engaged with one another (no time for checking facebook while you’re counting your bites) and genuinely got excited for one another when they made it to the top of the game board.
Oh, and just because Candy Land is named after a sugary sweet treat doesn’t mean you have to reward your child with candy when they finish. It’s more about having quality family game time at the dinner table. Our kids didn’t even ask for dessert, they just wanted to play again!
If you do try this game out with your family, please let me know! All children are different so if this doesn’t work out the way you’d wanted it to feel free to try a different game or activity.