Making the Most of Meal Times

first_imgBy Dora Doss, M.S., SLP-CCCImage from Photospin.com by Angel Nieto, CC0As a speech and language pathologist (SLP) and mother of three children ages 14, 11, and 3, I enjoy family mealtimes for the social, language, and bonding opportunities they provide.  Yet when my boys were 3 and 1, I worked full time while my spouse was deployed and dinnertime was our most challenging time of day. Often, one child wanted to play and the other cried while I cooked and served dinner – certainly not the most conducive setting for quality mealtime interactions.  As an early childhood professional, I was keenly aware of the value of family mealtimes and I wanted to capitalize on this after being away from my kids all day, and yet it was still very difficult.So, I decided to try something a little different.  Instead of trying to force quality time at the end of a long day, I turned my attention towards making our weekend breakfast meals the quality family mealtime I had tried so hard to foster during the week.  In order to achieve this, I did two things. First, I let go of the pressure to have a sit-down meal with my boys; often I served, ate, and cleaned up simultaneously.  Even though I was up and moving during meal time, I was still able to engage in meaningful ways with them.  Second, I had a friend who was experiencing the same challenge with her children.  Collaboratively we had meals together once a week (sometimes more) when our husbands were away due to work obligations. These somewhat simple changes made a big difference in the quality of my family’s meal time interactions during this stressful period of raising children as a military spouse.Interestingly, research has found that more complex language structures occur during family mealtimes[i] than during play time and book reading.[ii]  Simple things such as labeling “apple,” requesting “more apples,” and commenting “my apple” all promote the use of a variety of communicative functions. Caregivers may expand on the child’s utterances by using self-talk, such as, “I’m taking a bite of my apple,” and parallel talk such as, “You took a bite of your green apple,” which provide exposure to meaningful language without the need for the child to imitate or respond.  Mealtimes are also rich with narratives and turn taking, not to mention the cultural and social connections that are fostered.Sometimes families or professionals may wonder if mealtimes can be equally beneficial for a child with a more severe communication deficit or a child who does not receive nutrition orally.  I would suggest that, yes, family meals are just as important, if not more so.  A child who does not receive nutrition orally can benefit from the sensory aspect of smells and also from the sharing of language, cultural, and social experiences with family members surrounding food.  A child who has a severe communication deficit can be exposed to the language rich environment of mealtime while communication opportunities can be modified to meet their needs.  All children, regardless of communication ability, benefit from the structure and routine of a shared mealtime.Providers should consider a family’s unique schedule to optimize suggestions for family mealtimes, that would promote a positive atmosphere[iii] and caregivers who are warm and engaged.  As I mentioned earlier, in my own personal experience, this was more likely to occur around our family breakfast table on Saturdays and Sundays than on our rushed weeknights.  Be creative to help each family determine what mealtimes might work best for them and their unique circumstances.  Additionally, Luther and Lantendresse (2005) found positive outcomes for mealtime interactions with only one caregiver present.[iv]   The connection established during a shared meal or snack[v] between the caregiver and the child is what is most important.Communicative mealtime interactions lay the foundation for continued family meals[i] later which can foster growth and development throughout childhood.  Therefore, establishing this routine early in life is important.  Now that my children are older, I’m glad I persevered to establish a mealtime routine when they were young.  Having added a third child to our family in the last few years, we have dinner 4-5 times a week together, and these family meals have become a cherished routine for us.  It is fun to see my 3-year-old daughter’s language grow to keep pace with her big brothers, and we all enjoy the humor in the many wonderful things she chooses to discuss with us.[i] Anderson, J., & Trumbull, D. (2014). The benefits of the family table [Blog Post]. [ii] Snow, C. E., & Beals, D. E. (2006). Mealtime talk that supports literacy development. New directions for child and adolescent development, 2006(111), 51-66.[iii] Fishel, A. (2015, January 12) The most important thing you can do you’re your kids? Eat dinner with them. {Blog Post].[iv] Luthar, S. S., & Latendresse, S. J. (2005). Children of the affluent: Challenges to well-being. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 14(1), 49-53. DOI: 10.1111/j.0963-7214.2005.00333.x[v] Story, M., & Neumark-Sztainer, D. (2005). A perspective on family meals: do they matter?. Nutrition Today, 40(6), 261-266.This post was edited by Robyn DiPietro-Wells & Michaelene Ostrosky, Ph.D., members of the MFLN FD Early Intervention team, which aims to support the development of professionals working with military families. Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network FD concentration on our website, on Facebook, on Twitter, and on YouTube.last_img read more

CBI raids to stop SP-BSP alliance, says Akhilesh

first_imgA day after the Central Bureau of Investigation said the role of mining ministers in Uttar Pradesh under the tenure of Akhilesh Yadav would be probed in connection with alleged illegal mining, the Samajwadi Party chief on Sunday the “BJP has shown its true colours.”Mr. Yadav suggested the raids by the CBI by opening up old cases were an attempt by the BJP-led Centre to stop the SP-BSP alliance. The two parties along with the RLD are close to formally announcing an alliance for the 2019 Lok Sabha election.”The Samajwadi Party is trying to win as many Lok Sabha seats as it can. Possibly the CBI or the government that runs the CBI is trying to…What do we have? We can form an alliance and go to the people. And those who want to stop [us], what do they have? They have the CBI,” Mr. Yadav told reporters here.Mr. Yadav, who served as Chief Minister of UP from 2012 to 2017 and held additional portfolios of mining in 2012 and 2013, also said he was ready to be questioned by the probe agency.”If they question us, we will have to answer. We will give them an answer. But the people of the country are ready to give an answer to the BJP,” said Mr. Yadav.The SP national president also used sarcasm to allege political motive of the CBI raid.”I’m happy the BJP has once against shown its true colours. First the Congress gave us an opportunity to meet the CBI, now the BJP is giving us an opportunity,” said Mr. Yadav.He also warned the BJP that it would also have to face the brunt of the “culture” it was leaving behind.The CBI on Saturday said the role of the mining Ministers in UP between 2012 and 2016, which includes Mr. Yadav, may be probed in connection with a fresh case of alleged illegal mining of minor minerals registered on the direction of the Allahabad High Court.The CBI registered an FIR against 2008-batch IAS official and then Hamirpur District Magistrate B. Chandralekha and 10 other individuals, besides unknown officials and persons. Among those named in the FIR are SP MLC Ramesh Kumar Mishra and Sanjay Dixit, who fought the 2017 election on Bahujan Samaj Party ticketSearches were carried out on Saturday on 14 premises of the accused persons in Delhi, Hamirpur, Lucknow, Kanpur and Jalaun. The FIR alleges that public servants allowed illegal mining of minor minerals between 2012 and 2016 by the fraudulent granting of fresh or renewed leases. Officials also allegedly permitted mining by the existing lease-owners during the “obstructed period” when the National Green Tribunal had barred the activity. The leases were also issued in violation of a May 2012 order of the State government for e-tendering.last_img read more

Punjab govt. has failed to check stray cattle menace: Akali Dal

first_imgAmid the increasing stray cattle menace in the State, the Shiromani Akali Dal has hit out at the Congress government, accusing it of failing to address the issue. SAD leader and former Minister Bikram Majithia on Saturday said the State government had failed to find a solution to stray animals, which are not just destroying crops but have also been the cause of several deaths in the State.‘Cow cess’“The government collects ‘cow cess’ and other taxes in the name of taking care of stray animals, but the problem continues to grow. All concrete steps taken by the previous SAD-BJP government to create and maintain gaushalas and cattle pounds have been withdrawn by this government,” he alleged.Mr. Majithia said that incidents of deaths due to stray animals were on the rise in the State in the last few months. ‘Farmers affected’ “Farmers are also at the receiving end with their fields being laid to waste across the State. Towns and cities are facing an acute crisis with the cattle roaming free and spoiling green belts, besides causing traffic hazards on the State highways,” he said.Asking the Congress government to wake up from its slumber, the Akali leader demanded development of stray cattle pounds, free power to gaushalas on the pattern of the previous SAD-BJP government and judicious use of ‘cow cess’ to tackle the problem.last_img read more