A child with a spoon in his mouth having toys around them

How to get your child to get off the screen during meal time

Shivangini Gupta

Does your child eat only when they keep their eyes stuck to the screens of their mobiles or tablets? Do they sit in front of you and watch their favorite cartoons while you 'sneak' the bite into their mouth? Do they stop eating as soon as you pull the phones off their hands?

Experts believe that when the child's focus is not on the food they eat, they do not get proper nourishment and calories. Their bodies do not process the food properly. They are not aware of the food's texture, taste, and smell. This also means that they do not chew the food properly, which comes in the way of the digestion process.

Apart from that, there is always the fear of harming eyesight.

So, how can you get your child off the screen while eating?

Here are 5 tips to help you:

  • Eat together: The simplest way of getting your child off the screen while eating is to eat with the whole family. When the meals are shared, the child gets something else to look at and pay attention to. It becomes more than just eating. And it becomes better if there is an interaction between the family members. The whole idea is to enjoy the meals together.
  • Do not go cold turkey: Cold turkey is a method of cutting an addiction all at once. It may be helpful for some, but it does not suit many people. The best idea is to gradually reduce your child's exposure to the screen. You can start feeding them without the phone and hand it over to them after a while. Or, you may take the phone away before the meal is over so that they finish the meal without it. It will help them get habitual to the absence of screens and you can then reduce the exposure further.
  • Give them a toy: A toy can be given to the child as the 'meal partner'. This will keep them away from the feeling of being alone while eating. You can use their own imagination to help them. Children often visualize talking to the toys and it keeps them off the screen while eating.
  • Cook their favorite food: Every kid has their own set of favorite dishes. You can cook them the food they like so that the excitement around the plate remains high and they can be off the phone. If their choice of food is unhealthy, you can always mix some healthy elements like green vegetables into it.
  • Hide all the screens: This step is a bit extreme and should only be used if none of the options mentioned above work. You can keep all the screens out of the reach of the child. This way, they will slowly get accustomed to a life without a screen and will no longer correlate food with cartoons or movies. However, it is similar to the cold turkey method and may be more difficult to follow.

Learning how to chew and gulp food properly is important for children to understand. With these methods, you will move one step closer to keeping them off the screens while doing so.