Just the other day, my children and their families were over for dinner. Most of us had finished eating, but were still gathered around the table talking, when I heard one of my daughters saying to my grandson, “So, I see this is going to be another long, drawn-out meal!” I chuckled as I looked over and saw the little guy with his meat still on his plate while chewing and chewing. Yup, he’s going through the stage where it’s hard to swallow his meat.
In recent articles, I have shared advice regarding children at mealtime, and yes, this often leads to unpleasant times with lots of discipline. Because of this, we can often focus so much on the negative behavior that we don’t think to praise good behavior. When a child has taken a very long time to finish a meal- which included several trips to the “woodshed”- parents might be tempted to dismiss the child with negative words of disapproval. Most often, this is due to frustration, and we as parents can say many things that really aren’t necessary, just because we’re frustrated! Instead, this child needs to be praised that he has finished his meal, and encouraged that maybe next time he could eat in less time and have more time to play. I have seen a child leave the dinner table after a very unpleasant mealtime with a huge smile on his face, just because his mom and dad cheered when he swallowed the last bite.
Another thing that can help create a more pleasant experience at mealtime is for moms to look for ways to make meals special. Of course, this can’t be done every day, but we can do creative things for holidays throughout the year. One of my daughters has made reindeer pancakes for breakfast Christmas morning, and her children were so excited when they saw them. Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and what a perfect day for moms to make some fun things for meals. There are so many sources out there to help spark our creativity. I have seen lunch plates with food items arranged to spell LOVE. There are lots of examples of delicious desserts that are very simple to make. If a mother lacks time, something as simple as putting heart candies on ordinary cupcakes can make little children’s eyes light up. If dessert isn’t your thing, how about serving heart shaped biscuits with raspberry jam. Fresh cut up strawberries, when cut from top to bottom can resemble heart, and make an average bowl of oatmeal seem special. Even adding some strawberry syrup to a glass of milk can help make a Valentine’s Day breakfast help to say “I love you.”
Every year with a few exceptions, I have made heart shaped cookies for dessert for Valentine’s Day. My children always looked forward to these cookies. They are not difficult to make, and yes, they take a little bit of time, but that time is well spent if it causes children to know that mommy and daddy love them.
Glistening Meltaway Cookies
- ¾ cup butter, softened
- 2½ cup flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp almond extract
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- ½ cup raspberry jam
- Powdered sugar
Beat butter with electric mixer. Add the eggs and sugar and beat well. Add the baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and almond extract and continue mixing. Divide dough in half, shape into balls, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for an hour.
Roll dough out on floured surface to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut out with large heart shaped cookie cutter. Cut out the middles of half of these hearts with a small heart shaped cookie cutter. Bake at 375 degrees for 7 minutes.
Melt chocolate chips and spread chocolate on one solid heart cookie. Place a cookie with the small heart cut out of it on top. Spread a small amount of jam in the center of the heart. Sprinkle cookies with powdered sugar.