Undoubtedly, every parent wants the best for their children.
Parents also want their children to grow into independent adults capable of doing basic tasks for themselves.
So, one of the ways parents’ help their children is by engaging them in the kitchen.
Besides getting to bond with your children, doing this boosts your child’s creativity, independence, nutritional knowledge and confidence.
As a result, you help them promote their emotional, spiritual and physical wellbeing. Thus, it is essential to involve your kids in the kitchen regularly.
In this article, we discuss several tips on how to creatively and safely engage your children in the kitchen.
Begin with Appropriate Expectations
First, start with realistic expectations of what your child can handle and what he or she cannot handle. Of course, smaller children might find it challenging to perform complex tasks.
Therefore, set realistic expectations of what your child can do based on their cognitive development and age.
For instance, smaller children can perform simple and less risky kitchen tasks like taking napkins to the dining table, serving certain foods such as dry starches and stirring something manageable.
Expect them to pour, spill, or break something at times; even so, be patient with them as they are still learning. Do no scold them when they make a mistake but show them how to do it better next time.
On the flip side, if you have an older child, expect and give them an opportunity to do more, but be careful not to set unrealistic expectations.
Also, note that even older children are still prone to making mistakes the key word being children; all you have to do is correct them with love and patience.
It is not advisable to scold them over a mistake they’ve made because the process of involving them in the kitchen should be a fun experience both for you and your child.
Planning a Menu
Let your children be aware of what happens behind the scenes. Show them that preparing a meal incorporates planning and thought.
Meals do not suddenly appear on the table, so plan the meal with them while showing them everything that goes into meal preparation. This begins with procuring the right supplies, to preparation before even cooking. Even better, you can take them shopping with you.
You can let them decide on the type of meals to cook and even plan the menu with them. Some of the questions you might ask them to include, ‘What meal should we cook for lunch today?’
Should the child’s response involve unhealthy options, this provided a great opportunity to discuss concepts like a balanced diet. You also have the option of presenting a variety of options so that they end up selecting healthy meals.
So, you would instead ask, ‘Should we have peas or broccoli today?’ Once they choose a particular meal, congratulate them to cultivate decision-making skills in them.
Take Them Shopping
After your child selects a meal for dinner, take them shopping with you. Ensure that you establish clear boundaries of what you will require from them within the available budget and a limit of what can make it into the shopping list.
While shopping, write down a list of the things needed for the selected meal. Also, try explaining why the items are on the list and why some are not. Is it due to storage space, the price or a matter of sticking with the ingredients you need for a particular mean?
Suppose your children are a bit older, you can allow them to collect some items on the list while in the grocery store.
Additionally, allow them to assist you in finding the items on the list. In the process, explain to them the different types of vegetables in the grocery store.
You can let them choose a vegetable or fruit that they have never seen. In short, try as much as possible to expand their nutritional knowledge during the grocery shopping experience.
Safety in the Kitchen
Children are more vulnerable to kitchen accidents compared to adults. Remember, this is where you store your microwave oven, kitchen knives, forks, cookers and other kitchen appliances.
So, keep the children away from appliances that can lead to burns or cuts. Explain to them why some kitchen devices are not safe and advise them on how to handle them.
For toddlers, allow them to use harmless kitchen devices like spoons and whisks. On the other hand, if you have an older child, tutor them on how to handle electrical devices and knives.
Moreover, you can show them how to clean these appliances while teaching them the importance of kitchen hygiene.
Today, there are many rising cases of childhood obesity. So, it is essential to let your kids know the benefits of a healthy diet and how to implement one. Consequently, you will cultivate healthy eating habits for your children.
There is no better way to do this than by setting an example for them. If your children grow up helping to make healthy meals in the home kitchen, they will grow with a natural appreciation for healthy food. Remember habits are caught not taught.
While involving your kids in the kitchen, explain why some dishes are better than others and how to make healthy foods. This could be through using different cooking methods such as boiling or grilling as opposed to deep frying etc.
Be Creative and Have Fun
Come up with ways to make the learning experience fun. You can do this by wearing similar aprons and, most important of all, laugh at mistakes.
Let your children know that making mistakes is a part of life, and we all have to rise above them.
Furthermore, allow your children to use their creative skills. Consider and implement their suggestions; they could also teach you something, who knows? These helps them to feel more involved and appreciated.
For instance, if you teach them how to make pizza, select their preferred toppings. Consequently, you will promote your child’s self-confidence and imagination skills.
There’s nothing more essential than time with your loved ones. So now you have been preparing food items in your kitchen together, you can continue that bonding experience by serving and eating together.
Make sure you take time sitting together and discussing the meal preparation process. These could include discussions about how the kids helped create it and their delight in informing you what tasks they did and the best part about it.
Encourage them and make the kids feel proud about the role they played in getting the meal ready. Let them feel that their participation was an invaluable aspect of the process.
Meals are not only about body nourishment but also our souls. It is best if you have children spend a lot of time with you in your kitchen. By doing this, they will develop skills and make cherished reminiscences that last forever.
Involving your children in the kitchen creates opportunities for them to learn about different types of fruits and foods, colors, kitchen appliances amongst other things, thus boosting their knowledge.
They could also learn about numbers by counting items in the shopping list and measuring ingredients. You can also teach your children to clean up kitchen messes and utensils.
They can prepare the table for dinner, and put food in serving bowls. Luckily, most children enjoy doing this and find it fun; they won’t even take it as a household chore.
Why you should involve your children in the kitchen
Working as a team in the kitchen will help in developing a lasting bond between the parent and the little one. These memories will remain in the young ones’ minds forever.
Kids learn to ask ‘why’ as they do chores in the kitchen with parents and this will help develop their way of thinking.
Teamwork among kids is one of the best qualities a child can learn at a young age. For example, if the child’s mother requests the young one to arrange veggies in the veggie tray or peel potatoes, the child will respond with questions at each stage. For this reason, both will work as a team to get the job done.
Fine motor skills:
Dehulling seeds, tearing food items, holding things, and passing something in your kitchen are activities that help in developing your child’s fine motor skills and improving the coordination between the hand and eye.
Skills in leadership:
By mimicking the parents in the kitchen area, children learn to be in control and own the meals they are preparing. This will help develop the notion of ownership and great leadership skills.
The knowledge of your young one of ingredients will improve when learning practically. Kids will also see various simple ways of doing stuff in your kitchen.
Management of time:
When you need to prepare food items within a specific time, for example, by lunchtime, kids might see you rush the procedure and adhere to time deadlines. This will teach kids the significance of managing time.
At 8 months to 2 years when a parent is showing the children activities such as kneading, cooking, cutting, and mixing, it’s interesting for them, and they often observe.
Children are ardent learners, and this improves their concentration. Great observation skills are essential for development and learning.
- Ensure the kids are always aware of safety in the kitchen. You should set up rules and follow them.
- It is best to cook with your kids when you’ve got time to be patient with them. Avoid working with them when you are in a hurry. You want your little ones to connect food preparation with positive feelings, not impatience and nervousness.
- Kitchen mess: Calm down! Kitchens are messy areas, and children are messy as well. You should not worry about a few spills. Allow the children to help in cleaning up even if they do not do it well.
- Offering your little one ownership. Perhaps this means your little one has a recipe box to fill with special colorful measuring spoons or cups or favorite recipes. The kids may have their own kitchen towels or aprons, as well. In addition, think about including your little one when creating your weekly menu.
- Ensure that you allow your kids to know when they have done a task perfectly. Show them gratitude for assisting you in your kitchen, and celebrate their achievements together.
One of the significant advantages of cooking with your children is bonding with them. Family is everything, and spending time together promotes unity.
Cooking and eating with your children gives you a relaxed environment to discuss things like your child’s day at school, their favorite subject at school, their best meals, their best friend etc.
Based on previous studies, happier families spend a lot of time together. Therefore, it is essential to allow your kids to give you a hand in the kitchen.
Besides expanding their knowledge, you will develop an unbreakable bond and priceless memories that will forever be in your heart.
One thing you need to keep in mind and your young ones will remind you anyway, is that it is hard to prevent the mess when tiny hands are working. However, the advantages of this work out surpass these small hitches.
So, don’t waste any time. Get your aprons out and make your kitchen a place of learning for your children, while enjoying yourselves!