Preparing and cooking food with your children is quite a special activity which allows bonding and offers other benefits such as skill development by the children; however, most parents also worry about it.
Some parents often consider the kitchen a children-free zone area when they are preparing food due to the many hazards contained in the kitchen setting.
On the other hand, other parents like having their children lend a hand and get their small hands messy. They believe the mess and management of kitchen risks is part and parcel of the process.
There’s no right or wrong answer to allowing the children to lend a hand in your kitchen. It is really up to every parent and the child’s level of maturity.
So why are your kids not helping more, and what to do about it your kitchen?
1. You Demand Perfection
You cannot expect your little one to do a kitchen chore perfectly like you. You most likely were not so detailed at their age, either.
So, if you send the message -verbally or non-verbally- that you want your children to accomplish tasks within set timelines and at a certain high standard, children may feel under pressure and lose interest in helping out in the kitchen.
Solution: When you train your little one the kitchen chore, make sure you divide it into small simple steps.
This will help your little one master each task easily. It is best if you take pictures of your kids doing it and have a look at the pictures later together.
Once your little one takes charge of a chore, you can try reducing your control over the chore and allow your child the freedom to do it “their way”.
If your child knows you will do it, probably better and faster than they can, why would she or he bother trying? The only time you should interfere is if you observe a safety concern, in which case you should step in to avert an accident.
Concentrate on the positives, so your little one can be motivated to engage in more challenging chores.
You can achieve better results from kids by pointing to the positive attributes instead of criticizing their shortfalls with kitchen tasks.
Consider your response if somebody criticizes how you do a chore in the office, in contrast to when they find the positive in what you have done.
If your daughter uses lots of time to cook food in the kitchen as she chats the entire time on the phone, consider that it is truly up to her to make the food delicious.
2. Because DIY is easy
Involving children in kitchen chores is involving and probably slower than just doing it yourself. You probably already have a personal routine and rhythm that you follow to ensure you have tasty meals in record time and with as little mess as possible.
So, when kids are still young enough but want to start lending a hand in the kitchen, we put them off.
By the time they are old enough to be helpful, it will take a lot of time to train them after a long time of resisting their offer to help. Also, you may still think that it is still easier to DIY.
Apart from that, by the time they are at an age where they can help adequately, they get absorbed in other more thrilling quests and are not as willing to help anymore. For this reason, getting them engaged in offering a helping hand may prove frustrating.
Solution: You need to change your attitude about why children are doing chores in the kitchen.
It is not all about saving you time, at least not at the start, but about other benefits such as bonding and helping them to acquire important life skills.
It is learning life skills and experience how great it will feel to contribute. Look forward to spending time with your kids and training and supervising them in the kitchen.
It is time well spent even though you may end up expending more time that you would if you Do it Yourself.
The younger the children are when they start to do house chores, the better. Little ones often like lending a hand. It becomes harder to persuade older children to taken on tasks as they may already have developed their own hobbies and other interests.
From an early age, you should knowingly involve your kids in what you are doing in the kitchen, although it will take a lot more time. Ensure it’s enjoyable for them.
After that, kids start seeing themselves as adding something valuable. That is a fundamental human need, and kids, just like adults, take joy in that feeling that they are adding value.
If you have older kids, do you still want to work with them in the kitchen? If you would like your kids to enjoy kitchen tasks, the answer to this question should be a resounding ‘Yes.’
Instead of designating tasks, you can try to work as a team. It is best to have every child take part in a task in the kitchen while working with their siblings under the supervision of a parent.
The only work you have to do is coordinating, gently and politely correcting any issues that arise, and keeping things on course and fun in the kitchen.
For example, your 11-year-old can make the toast while your 13-year-old prepares eggs for breakfast. Yes, that’s truly realistic; however, you should be there as the coordinator to make sure all goes well.
Coordination in this case includes checking to ensure that the food does not burn, that kitchen hazards such as wet spills are quickly eliminated, that hygiene standards are maintained and that the food is well presented for dinner.
There is no reason why kids cannot enjoy making food for the entire family and even cleaning the dishes and leaving the kitchen clean by the time they are teenagers.
This can be achieved by ensuring that every family member is involved in cooking once weekly; however, it will take your participation overtime to reach that point.
3. Because children do not have time
Today, children spend hours in class, and plenty of hours getting the homework done.
If they take part in activities such as music, sports or other activities, they are needed to spend a great amount of time doing their practices.
In addition to the various activities keeping children busy, there is also the competing screen time, whether it is watching something on a phone, tablet, computer or the television.
Control of screen time to healthy and acceptable levels is a major challenge in parenting today.
By the time children reach middle school, they usually don’t have time to play. When they are in high school, they usually don’t have time to sleep.
Solution: During your child’s school year, provide him or her with responsibilities that they can tackle one to two hours on each day of the weekend.
After that, as summertime starts, discuss responsibility and come up with a schedule that will need your child to participate more.
Use the opportunity when they are not in school to train them in life skills and make a real contribution to the kitchen and the entire house.
4. Because children don’t like chores / More fun things to do
It is a sensible attitude, as the majority of adults find it boring to do kitchen chores. After all, children have lots of other, more fascinating, demands on their time.
With more fun activities for children to engage in, it is no wonder that the kids truly cannot see why it matters if the kitchen floor is swept.
Solution: You should make it about mastery and enjoyment. Keep in mind that if you make the experience of contributing to the family seem like a task; your little one will stay away from chores completely.
Rather, think about this as an opportunity for your little one to enjoy becoming great at something.
Point out whenever your child is able to complete a certain task masterfully and point it out with gratitude.
Help the kids understand that it is a big deal, a positive attribute, to be able to start a chore, consistently work on it until it is complete, and do it well.
In due course, your kids will come to enjoy the achievement of work done properly and even pride themselves in being able to cook and clean well.
Ensure it is about gratitude and relationship. You should recognize that your little one does not see much essential value in kitchen work unless you are doing it with your child.
Rather than sending your child off to do some work alone, see the joint undertaking and completion of kitchen chores as a chance of bonding with your child.
Play your child’s favorite song and sing along as you engage in the tasks. Discover the fun of working together and motivate your child with it. Let them know the importance of having them as your help.
Keep in mind that anybody can resist less if they feel that they have the freedom to make decisions about which tasks to do.
In addition, it won’t hurt having a bit of motivation waiting after Saturday morning family cleaning chores, like a visit to the zoo or other fun activities.
5. Because children need your help but it is not forthcoming
Children do require a helping hand occasionally; it is important for them to feel that this assistance is available whenever they need it.
It helps restore confidence to them that you are there to nurture and protect them. What’s more, the kids work hard to keep it together at school the entire day.
So, when they get back home, they require lots of opportunities in the house to unwind and allow their baby-selves emerge.
If your kids miss these opportunities to unwind and feel like children, you can be certain the baby-selves will emerge by resisting to help when you ask the child to lend a hand in the kitchen.
Solution: Be ready to help your little ones when they ask for help and do so without scolding them, especially when they ask for help with tasks which you know they are capable of doing without your assistance. That may be a call for your attention.
When you are certain your kids are getting their need to feel “looked after” met when they ask for a helping hand with a chore in the kitchen which you know they can do, support them. Encourage them but allow them to deal with it.
6. Children may forget their duties
It is important to understand that even children have competing priorities for their young lives. Often, household chores may not rank as a priority in their list and so they may end up forgetting about the tasks.
It should be expected that lighter and more fun activities may take precedence over the less interesting tasks, especially after a long day in school.
Parents should not hesitate to remind their kids about their pending responsibilities. Expect the kids to whine a little but encourage them to do the tasks all the same. You can even offer to team up with them to complete the task.
Solution: Never quit, and do not become frustrated whenever your children forget their tasks. Kitchen tasks won’t be a top priority on your little one’s list, and that is okay.
Maintain your sense of humor. After that, when your little one whines about helping out around the home or requires reminding, gently emphasize and reiterate your expectations.
Employ some humor in the reminders as this may help your child to associate the tasks with something funny and perhaps increase the likelihood that they will remember the task in the future.
It is best to write a routine on paper that will include the duties that everybody has committed to and then be consistent and happy about your expectations.
Having a routine and being consistent with it is the only way of creating a habit. Your aim is to have chores, just like you would with any good habits, entrenched as a habit so your little one does it automatically.
After all, your kids do not have lots of motivation to put the plates in the dishwasher. Because of this, the only reason they might have to do it at the start of this routine is that you will be on their face, gently reminding them until the job gets done.
After some time, it will just be a habit; this is our routine after a meal, and usually, you don’t need to remind them.
Keep in mind that reminding your child about kitchen chores does not mean fault-finding. Your tone of voice will determine which group the reminders fall into.
You can experiment with becoming silly when you need to remind your little one about a chore until everybody laughs. The nervousness will vanish, and any power struggle will vanish.
Your dissatisfaction with the need to remind your children will vanish. And as soon as there is enjoyment and lightness about it, you may even discover that your little one doesn’t need pushing.
Like most of us, when kids know that doing a specific chore in the kitchen will get them a warm thank you, hug, or smile, they are more likely to get it done.
On the other hand, if you hold the view that your kids should do the chore without reminders and constantly feel irritated about them forgetting and you having to give them reminders, you can get bad-tempered, and the entire interaction is full of nervousness.
Yes, you’ll need to put in more effort to ensure your little one puts the dishes in the sink after a meal than it would require if you were to do it yourself.
However, the extra effort in reminding your child and offering any assistance will prove worth it in the long run. Over time, the chores will be a habit, such as brushing of teeth.
One day your child will make a meal, and you will realize you have an all-grown-up person who can look after himself and others, which helps make a genuine contribution.
7. Children are not motivated or rewarded
Children, just like adults, may require motivation from time to time. They may also feel that there are no benefits to engaging in the task or it is a waste of time.
When children begin to feel unappreciated or like their work is not valued, they may lose motivation to help and stop engaging in kitchen chores.
Also, it could be that getting them engaged requires immense persuasion and that even when you finally get them to engage, they do the chores reluctantly or hurriedly just to get it done without doing it well.
Such an approach can end up being very frustrating for the children and can cause a parent to lose their cool,
Solution: All human beings like to be rewarded for a job well done. Appreciating effort and rewarding it will give better results than scolding or not expressing your appreciation perhaps because you feel the standard of delivery of the chores is still subpar.
Instead, look for what your child has done well and heap praises on them. This reinforces that positive habit and encourages them to do well in other chores.
As you continually praise them for a job well done in various tasks, their delivery will get better with time.
Develop an objective reward system so that your child will know that certain positive actions always attract a certain reward.
Such a system is also helpful in a household with more than one child as they also can get to do a self-assessment and know which rewards follow which actions.
An objective reward system approach promotes a sense of certainty and fairness in a home setting since the children get to know that positive acts are always accompanied by certain rewards.
Remember the idea is not to praise them for the sake of praising them, but only to give praise when it is deserved. When you feel they have not done a good job, find a gentle way of correcting them.
However, unless you are predisposed to always seeing the glass half empty as opposed to half full, you will always find something praiseworthy in the work your children have done to help in the kitchen.
Praises and rewards might be the magic wand you need to see your kids taking a more active role in the kitchen, so swish away!