Getting your kids involved in the kitchen has wonderful benefits for the whole family.
Cooking with kids will teach them to make healthy choices about what they eat and be more adventurous about trying new + healthy foods. Learning to prepare their own food will help them build confidence, learn the pride of accomplishment and the joy of giving to others.
It can be a blast for everyone, strengthen family bonds and encourage communication.
Children often begin to show interest in helping in the kitchen by the time they are two or three and this is a great time for them to begin helping.
Think about the tasks you can give your child as you sense his or her interest growing.
A very young child can snap the ends from green beans, crumble bread for bread crumbs, peel garlic, wash vegetables, learn to measure ingredients, roll out dough or stir mixtures with a spoon. Just being involved is important for children this age.
As they grow older, they can learn to take on more difficult tasks like cracking eggs, cutting vegetables, operating appliances, and following a recipe on their own. Start out cooking with kids with simple recipes so that your child can be encouraged by his or her initial success.
Don’t make a huge deal out of spills or imperfections. Complement them on a job well done.
With encouragement, patience, and room enough to experiment and make mistakes, children learn to complete a task and enjoy results. In a safe environment, they learn when to go by the rules and when to break them.
You are your child’s guide as they learn in the kitchen, and it may surprise you how quickly they will become proficient if they enjoy it. Many children soon want to begin experimenting with their own recipes, adding or substituting ingredients and learning which flavors go well together.
Recent studies have shown that children who help with cooking eat more vegetables.
Children enjoy the chance to learn about the food they consume and to choose how and what they will prepare. They want to savor and appreciate their own accomplishments.
Before cooking with kids, let them help you decide on menus and shop for ingredients. Help them to understand the benefits of each food they choose and look for ways to do something new with a food they already profess to dislike, but don’t always insist on eating a vegetable they don’t yet like. Children who are given choices among healthy foods will eat more of them.
Encourage healthy choices and make it fun. The variety of healthy choices that we enjoy today is huge. Take advantage of it.
Working together in the kitchen is a great way to spend quality time with your child and opens many opportunities for natural, heart-to-heart conversation. It emphasizes the closeness of family.
Sometimes it’s easier to broach serious topics when your hands are busy and you are working side by side rather than facing one another.
Lighthearted conversation, laughing, even singing + dancing together, tend to flow out of the rhythms of cooking.
A relationship built on working and communicating with each other is one that will not be easily shaken when your child or family goes through difficult times or stages.
Your children will be able to use the skills you teach them in the kitchen for the rest of their lives.
If you have guided them to try new things and make healthy choices, this will also go with them into adulthood and continue to benefit them.
Getting your children involved in the kitchen will mean more time, more patience, and more clean-up but it will be worth it for them and you in the long run.