How to Get Your Teen to Eat Breakfast

teenage girls making pancakes
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Make Breakfast Part of the Routine

We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, yet many parents allow their teens to skip it. It's understandable. It can be hard enough to get your teen up, ready and to school while you need to go off to work on time without adding more to do in your morning routine.

But having breakfast, even if it is a quick one, is important enough a health issue to make it a pertinent part of your family’s routine.

Here are some tips on how to get your teen to the breakfast table.

  • Talk with your teen and set your expectations. Although this talk doesn't need to be with just your teen -- it can be at a family meeting -- be sure they know why you feel strongly that breakfast is a key meal. Share reasons that fit into your teen's life, like those found in this article on the Mr. Breakfast site: "A Harvard University Massachusetts General Hospital study of children in Philadelphia and Baltimore schools discovered that students who usually ate school breakfast had improved math grades, reduced hyperactivity, decreased absence and tardy rates, and improved psycho-social behaviors compared with children who rarely ate school breakfast."
  • Set a wake-up time that keeps your teen from rushing through their morning routine. Teen are notorious for hitting the snooze button. While this is OK once or twice, hitting it past a reasonable wake-up time, rolling out of bed and skipping breakfast is not acceptable. It will not lead to a healthy adult lifestyle. Teaching teens healthy ways to start their daily routines is our responsibility. Therefore, getting your teen out of bed by waking them yourself may be something you'll need to do for the first couple of weeks.
  • Offer favorite breakfast foods. This doesn't mean you'll need to make blueberry pancakes everyday! But adding a smoothie or favorite fruit to the same daily bowl of cereal will juice up the morning meal.
  • Make breakfast time family time. In an age where families have to struggle to see each other at dinner, breakfast together makes sense. While I am in no way suggesting you get your toddler out of bed at 6:30 a.m. so they can have breakfast with your teen before school, I do feel that if family members are awake, sitting down to a morning meal together will strengthen family bonds.
  • Create a weekly breakfast menu. Ask your teen to offer suggestions and help make the menu. This will create a bit of ownership and a sense of responsibility for your teen which, in turn, will get them to the table in the morning. Post the menu where all family members can view it easily.
  • Try new recipes. Teaching healthy habits like having breakfast daily can be fun, too. Try out new recipes, talk about things that you are looking forward to in the upcoming day, teach your teen to cook and enjoy each other's company. These family times lead to precious memories for everyone.

Quick Breakfasts Have Their Place

Although I don’t recommend a quick breakfast all of the time, every day may not be picture perfect. Schedules can change, there may be times when you'll need to offer your teen something quick to eat so that they don't skip breakfast totally. Here are a few quick and healthy foods that your teen may enjoy for breakfast:

  • Yogurt
  • Make-ahead fruit salad
  • Breakfast bars
  • Breakfast drinks
  • Bag of dry cereal and a juice box
  • Banana or apple and peanut butter
  • Fruit and/or bran muffins

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