December 16 2020 How to encourage kids to participate in the kitchen
Our latest blog was written by Reese Jones and comes all the way from the UK! Reese is a London-based parent who, like most of us, is trying to weather the challenges the pandemic has presented these past few months. During this time, her and her family have rediscovered the benefits of cooking together and she wants to help any families looking to do the same.
For parents who are trying to get their kids to help out in the kitchen, especially during this holiday season, here are a few tips for you!
For most parents, their kids’ overall health is of utmost importance. At times, this can be the compelling reason why some mums and dads encourage their kids to participate in sports, take all sorts of multivitamins and eat healthy. But, of course, such things are easier said than done. A lot of kids find it hard to develop a liking towards healthier foods including greens, vegetables and root crops. As a way to address this problem, some parents turn to food tricks that ‘hide’ veggies from kids at mealtime. Unfortunately, well-intended actions like these can sometimes cause children to develop mistrust and feel some level of betrayal.
One of the best ways parents can encourage kids to eat their veggies without resorting to such measures is by encouraging them to participate in the kitchen. This way, they can get a first-hand look at how their meals are prepared and have a deeper level of appreciation for their food. If you have no idea how to encourage your kids to participate in the cooking process, then you’re in luck. In this article, we will list some of the ways you can get your little ones more involved in the kitchen, just in time for the holiday season.
Have your kids help with the whole process
The process of bringing hearty food to the table isn’t isolated to just the cooking part. If you are someone who takes joy in cooking, you know how the whole thing starts the minute you think of what you want to eat. After the planning part comes the shopping, the prepping, the cooking, the eating, and lastly, the cleaning. Get your kids interested by including them in each of the aforementioned steps. This way they’ll be more invested in the food that you all made, and at the same time develop a certain level of appreciation for their food.
Making some of the steps their responsibility, like setting the table and cleaning the dishes would also foster independence and reduce their stress at mealtimes. Not just that, your kids can also accompany you while you shop for ingredients. This way, you can treat it as an educational trip where you show them different kinds of vegetables and grains, and explain why they are good for their health. The holidays are just around the corner, so you might want to involve your kids in a healthy menu planning for your family’s Christmas dinner!
Let them be in charge of certain kitchen tasks
As digital natives who were born in the age of rapid digitalisation, kids these days can’t help but be drawn to electronic devices – even those that are used in the kitchen. Appliances like rice cookers are perfect for little ones to be in-charge of. They start with a press of a button and you can even rest assured that your kids would get perfect rice every single time.
In addition to electronic kitchen gadgets, you can also ask them to handle some of the manual ones that are safe and easy to use. Like mashers, wooden spoons, butter knives or kid-friendly manual food choppers (some of which are as easy and as fun as pulling a string). You can also get them involved with age-appropriate tasks. Such as, cracking eggs, reading the recipe or food labels, mixing ingredients, washing vegetables or rolling out dough and so much more.
This way, they can safely participate in the food preparation and see every ingredient that goes into their food. Assure them that their help is much needed so they will gain a sense of responsibility that will help further their interest.
Try not to stress about the mess
Even if you are not working with kids, kitchens can easily get messy when you are preparing something, especially during the holiday season! So, if you are planning to have your kids tag along during meal prep, you have to brace yourself for the mess that’s about to come. And while you are at it, it would be best to try not to stress too much about it. Being particular with how they mix the ingredients or how they set the table will eventually take all the fun and creativity out of the activity — and you surely wouldn’t want that. Instead of worrying about the mess, try to think of ways you can make the cleaning process more fun. This way, they can also learn how to clean after themselves.
The holiday season is fast approaching. As an event that celebrates family more than anything else, you can make the most out of this by encouraging your kids to participate in the kitchen and have them realise that they are an important part of the event too.
Now, get out there and start your family cooking adventure!
Article written by Reese Jones
For the exclusive use of parentsvoice.org.au
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