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Appendix 1: Eating in the Mirror

INTRODUCTION

Sometimes there is a lot of pressure at the table. One child doesn’t eat the vegetables on her plate; another doesn’t close his mouth while chewing his food. This activity gives parents a playful way to give feedback to their children about their undesirable eating behaviors without having to shout, or say the same things over and over again. It is also a way to bring to adults’ attention things they may be doing (or not doing) at the table during mealtime which distract or otherwise concern children. This activity also provides a relaxed opportunity for physical movement.

Instructions
Either before a meal is served or after it is on the table, create intergenerational teams, each with a young person and an older adult. Ask one member to volunteer to be the “leader.” The partners sit close together, facing one another. 

The leader starts a slow movement related to eating, while the other group member mirrors the leader’s movements. After a time, the other member of the team becomes the leader and the process is repeated.

The result is a synchronized dance of movement that can be effective in drawing attention to problematic behaviors of family members during family meals. Examples of such patterns that could be exaggerated to make the desired point include, eating on the run, eating with the mouth open, and dinner conversations with no eye contact. Next the desired behavior can be mirrored and followed with a discussion of the more acceptable/desirable behavior.