Eating together as a family has long-term effects on child’s mental, and social well being, new study shows.

Here’s another reason to sit down with your family especially your little tots at the dinner table more regularly.

Young children who routinely have meals together with the entire family are more likely to grow up to have good social skills and become less physically aggressive, this is according to a new study published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.

Also read 8 Reasons to Make Time for Family Dinner

The study conducted by students and professors from the Universite de Montreal came up with the findings after following a group of children born in Quebec from 1997-1998. At age 6 the students’ parents reported their frequency of family meal times and by age 10 their teachers, parents, and the children themselves were interviewed to get data about their lifestyle and psycho-social well being.

Data about the child’s condition before age 6 including their temperament, cognitive abilities, and the parents’ psycho-social well being that could create pre-existing conditions that has the possibility of throwing the results off were also carefully considered.

In the study the researchers found that those with better quality and more frequent family meal times together had more highly developed social skills were less likely to be physically aggressive, are not oppositional and delinquent by age 10.

Frequent and routine meal times also have positive effects on the child’s physical fitness and food choices. Those who had frequent meals with their families reported less unhealthy meal consumption with higher levels of fitness.

Pagani, the study’s lead researcher said that “the presence of parents during mealtimes likely provides young children with firsthand social interaction, discussions of social issues and day-to-day concerns, and vicarious learning of prosocial interactions in a familiar and emotionally secure setting.”

“Experiencing positive forms of communication may likely help the child engage in better communication skills with people outside of the family unit. Our findings suggest that family meals are not solely markers of home environment quality, but are also easy targets for parent education about improving children’s well-being,” he added.

While this ideal set-up could prove to be a challenge for some parents it is best to encourage them to strive to provide children with this opportunity as often as they possibly can. By making this a priority we will be contributing greatly to our children’s long term positive development.

Author: Loraine Balita-Centeno

I'm a Manila based journalist who's been working in the industry for 12 years. I've written pieces for newspapers and magazines based in Manila and some abroad. I'm a work-at-home-mom of two so I spend my days writing or editing with a toddler clamped around one leg and a pre-schooler asking me questions every 10 minutes.

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