As parents, it’s our duty to give our best to make our children socially aware, well-mannered, and properly fed—among many other things. These days this mission becomes more difficult to achieve because of the growing number of distractions such as TV and smart devices.

Most people find it difficult to motivate their children to leave their phone while at the table no matter how hard they try. However, the consequences of failing to distance a kid from its phone during a meal compel us to do our best in order to succeed at screen-free meals.

Start from the early age.

Children are easy to distract, especially at their most early age of development. Even as toddlers, kids can grow a habit of playing with their parent’s smartphone. The best thing to do is to put away your phone while at the dinner table and place it somewhere beyond the child’s reach or vision. This way, your kid will not be used to having a device in its hands during meal time or try to reach out for it, ultimately neglecting the meal altogether.

Rather, chat with your baby while you’re at the table, let it play with a spoon or a piece of fruit. Conversations during a meal offer a vast array of benefits to a kid, such as expanding their vocabulary, acquiring general knowledge, etc.

Prepare food that your kids will enjoy.

This piece of advice maybe sounds a bit awkward, but there is a healthy logic behind it. If you take the time to prepare child-friendly meals, then your kids will spend more time eating and less time looking for a distraction.

If you start this practice from the early age and combine it with keeping your phone away, the kids will accept that type of behavior as normal. As the time goes by, you will be able to prepare any type of food and see the plates empty while the TV and iPods are safely stored away from the table.

Engage your children in family conversations.

Mobile devices can have a negative effect on your child’s social skills and communicational abilities. Therefore, having a family dinner with and engaging your kids in conversation can both distance your kid from smartphone and improve their social behavior.

If your kid is school age, talk about school, teachers, friends, etc. Also, let them know how your day was. This kind of communication will keep the kid away from the phone and benefit his or her overall upbringing.

Establish table manners.

Set some basic rules that each member of the family must follow during meals: 1) Phones and TV must be turned off and put away while the family is at the table and 2) No getting up to check for messages before the dinner is finished.

Your kids might frown upon these rules in the beginning; however, if you, as a parent, set an example and obey the family dinner rules, your children will adopt this as a standard.

Technology is an unavoidable part of our lives, and it helps us connect and bond in so many ways. Nevertheless, no matter how much value it brings to our lives, it is important to separate family time from technological distractions in order to create a healthy atmosphere and help our children grow into socially-conscious beings. We hope these pieces of advice will help you achieve your goal and spend enjoyable family dinners without screen distractions.