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7 Bad Dinner-Table Habits Your Family Needs to Break

Put an end to these common dinner distractions and even your teenager will sit up and smile. (Yes….we said, “smile.”) Create mealtime moments everyone can enjoy when you end these bad habits.

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Teenage Family Using Gadgets Whilst Eating Breakfast Together In KitchenShutterstock/Monkey Business Images
Shutterstock/Monkey Business Images

Bad Habit #1: Gadgets at the Table

Declare your table a phone-free zone. If necessary, collect everyone’s devices in a basket, and return them once the meal is through. Set a good example and stash your phone away, too.

We tried the digital detox and here’s what happened.

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Hand refusing junk food with white backgroundShutterstock/ShutterOK

Bad Habit #2: Fast Food

Fast-food dinners aren’t exactly the stuff memories are made of. Too busy to cook? Keep a few quick recipes on hand and include the family in meal prep. Not only will you enjoy a home-cooked meal more, but preparing it together makes the night extra special.

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Young Hispanic Family Enjoying Meal At HomeShutterstock/Monkey Business Images
Shutterstock/Monkey Business Images

Bad Habit #3: Bickering

A lot of families get hung up on this one, so simply avoid stressful or sensitive discussions at the dinner table. Play referee if kids and teens argue at the table.

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Cute boy child eating at the table in kitchen and watching football Shutterstock/spass

Bad Habit #4: Eating in Front of the TV

How can you talk, laugh and make memories when all eyes are glued to the TV? Instead, turn it off and entertain each other. Have a few questions at the ready to start a fun discussion. “Who is your favorite cartoon character and why?” or “What song brings back the best memories?” are both great conversation starters.

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Cute teenager girl using laptop while doing homework in bedroomShutterstock/Africa Studio
Shutterstock/Africa Studio

Bad Habit #5: Flying Solo

Put a stop to grab-and-go meals. Tell your teen no more eating in her room, and suggest your husband stop working at the computer while scarfing down dinner. There are several chairs at the table for a reason—so you can enjoy meals together as a family!

Craving fast food? Try these copycat recipes.

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Woman driving car and eating sandwichShutterstock/T.Dallas

Bad Habit #6: Eating on the Go

We get it. Life is busy. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with noshing on sandwiches on the way to the soccer game or tossing back snack mix while driving to a scout meeting, don’t make it a habit. Strive to enjoy at 2 sit-down family meals per week—that’s about 100 family meals per year!

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High Angle View Of A Person Hand Filling Meal Plan In Notebook At Wooden DeskK_ Andrey_Popov_TK/Shutterstock

Bad Habit #7: Not Being Prepared

As with most things in life, a little preparation goes a long way when it comes to mealtime. Creating a weekly supper plan helps avoid stress at dinner time, and focusing on the which bad habits you want break helps you overcome those issues quicker and with fewer headaches.

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Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Taste of Home editors, who aim to highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners. We frequently receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We welcome your feedback. Have something you think we should know about? Contact us, here.

Mark Hagen
The former owner of his own catering business, Mark’s been part of the Taste of Home team for the past 20 years. His work has also appeared in Quick Cooking, Light & Tasty and Country Woman magazines as well as in various Pillsbury and Betty Crocker cookbooks. When he’s not spending time in the kitchen with his Westie, Rocco, he’s working in his yard, doing stand-up comedy or devouring a platter of nachos. (Most likely the latter.)

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