Kids more likely to open up about sensitive topics – when eating favourite meal

Kids are more likely to open up about sensitive topics when eating their favourite foods – with pizza, Chinese, and fish and chips their top choices, according to parents. Seven in ten mums and dads reckon they are more likely to have an open conversation with their children over a meal they enjoy – and takeaways top the list of foods.

A study of 2,000 parents, of children aged 11 to 18, who attend non-fee paying schools, found school life (64 percent), friends (54 percent), and family (52 percent) are hot topics of conversation when they come together to eat.

Food behavioural psychologist, Dr Suzanna Forwood, claims the happiness levels released when children have their favourite foods mean they are more relaxed, and likely to engage more with their parents.

The expert, who is also an associate professor at Anglia Ruskin University, has teamed up with Talking Futures, an online resource that helps parents talk to children about future education and career options.

She said: “Talking with teens and young adults about their careers and education decisions can be difficult. But planning a regular mealtime where families can catch up over their favourite food can help.

“This is because mealtimes are moments when our body relaxes, and eating our favourite foods produce positive emotions which make us feel safe.

“All these factors working together help both teens and their parents to open up when they chat, resulting in supportive conversations and a better understanding between both parent and child.”

The study also found 87 percent believe they are more likely to eat together if they order a takeaway. And 88 percent of parents polled think mealtimes are a good opportunity to have positive and constructive conversations with their children.

The main reasons for this include it being a time when everyone is together (78 percent), everyone slows down a bit (47 percent), and the food is a good conversation starter (37 percent).

However, some subjects are still difficult to broach – including death (22 percent), mental health (16 percent), and relationships (14 percent).

But 89 percent have used mealtimes as an opportunity to talk about specific topics, including careers – with 49 percent finding it easier to talk more openly about their child’s options when sat having a meal together.

Of those who wish they could have more future career conversations with their children, 53 percent want to be there for them, while 44 percent want to provide advice and point them in the right direction.

The study, carried out via OnePoll, found 66 percent tend to use more light-hearted topics as a starting point, before talking to their child about more important subjects, such as their future education and career plans.

Michelle Rea, spokeswoman for Talking Futures, said: “Parents, carers, and guardians play an important role in their children’s further education and career choices, and they have significant influence on the decisions they go on to make.

“We know it can be hard for many parents to find the right time to talk to their teenagers about these topics. But it’s important for parents to have conversations about future career options with their children early on – and to have them on a regular, ongoing basis.

“With help from Dr Suzanna Forwood, we have pinpointed mealtimes as a good time for families to catch up on career options – particularly when your teen is enjoying their favourite dish.”

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