9 Powerful Reasons to be Cooking with Kids
Food and kids. Has there ever been a more frustrating combination in history? On the one hand you have kids who eat everything in sight and you worry about the eventual size of their mid-section. On the other hand you have kids who won’t touch a bite of ANYTHING set before them and you worry about – well, you worry about everything!
I know this post is a departure from the usual comfort food 101, but this is something that has popped up on my radar as a grandma. As an old mom and a nurse, I wanted to share my experience. After 27 years of raising children I DO KNOW the following things:
- Mom and Dad, you are doing the best you can and sometimes struggles about eating aren’t worth it.
- Kids will definitely eat SOMETHING when they become hungry.
- If your children grow up seeing YOU eat balanced healthy meals day after day, eventually, they will too. (It might take a very long time, but I promise, eventually, it will happen).
Know this: You aren’t alone. You are doing your best. Just keep up the good work.
What you CAN do for tiny appetites is to allow your kids to help in the kitchen. I know. I KNOW. It is a LOT of extra work for YOU to allow them to even be IN the kitchen while you are trying to put a decent dinner on the table.
However, here are 9 Powerful Reasons to be Cooking with Kids
Cooking Brings the Family Together
Cooking brings families together. Cooking time spent together allows kids to participate in something bigger than themselves. While cooking dinner, the child is responsible for important tasks. More importantly, kids understand that you trust them with this responsibility. The mutual trust you build in the kitchen will last a lifetime. Besides, sometimes revealing conversations about school, friends and activities come up while preparing supper.
Cooking Builds Self Esteem
Cooking builds self esteem. Self esteem doesn’t come from participation ribbons and cheers for everyone. Self esteem is built by learning to depend on oneself. A child who masters even the simplest tasks in the kitchen (toasting the bread for dinner for the entire family or putting the cookies on the baking sheet) has a new tool in their tool belt that they can feel proud of and you, as the parent, can too.
Cooking Teaches Math
Cooking is an EXCELLENT way to teach math. Cooking is all about adding, subtracting and fractions. A child who can SEE that 1/4 cup of water goes into a 1 cup measure 4 times has learned an important concept. There are many other examples just like this – look for a few while you prepare dinner tonight.
Cooking Teaches How to Follow Instructions
Cooking is an EXCELLENT way to help children learn to follow instructions. Often times, in cooking, it is very important to follow the instructions exactly. For example, if the recipe says to add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients then that is exactly what you must do, not the reverse. A child who learns to follow instructions to the letter has certainly learned an important life lesson.
Cooking Teaches Reading and Reading Comprehension
Cooking is an EXCELLENT reading tool! Do you have a child who is reluctant to read? Does your child need help with reading comprehension? Recipes provide a source for new words, concrete examples of word comprehension and real life “do this” instructions.
Cooking Improves Eating
Cooking helps children WANT to try the cooked items. The child who has helped stir the green beans, mound up the meatloaf and cut the lettuce for the salad is going to be many times more likely to try a bite of those things. Especially when she sees mom and dad enjoying their dinner.
Cooking Teaches Task Completion
Cooking teaches children to keep going until the task is complete. When you are cooking something, it is pretty obvious that if you give up there won’t be any reward. Get tired and want to quit? Sure – but then all of the food will be wasted and you will still be hungry afterwards. This is an important life concept.
Cooking Teaches Cleanliness
Cooking creates a mess and gives you the opportunity to learn to clean up as you go. Think about that for a second. There aren’t many other tasks that are as “self-help” as learning to clean as you go. When your child sees you quickly washing up a mixing bowl or a serving spoon, she will soon learn – “Mom does it this way because it’s faster” and she will develop these good habits too (eventually).
Cooking is an Important Life Skill
Cooking is an important life skill. As the writer of a cooking website, I promise you, there are MANY people in the world who do not know the most basic things about cooking. By allowing your child to help in the kitchen, he is learning important life skills that will carry through to adulthood. My own 29 year old son always wanted to help in the kitchen and I let him. By the time he was 12, he was cooking complete meals for the family with only a few directional hints from me. (I worked in an evening nursing triage job from home in an office just off the kitchen and could only shout a few instructions from my office between calls into the kitchen to help him – but he did great). He finds a lot of pride now in being able to cook delicious dinners for his family.
It’s never fun to see someone else do all of the “fun” jobs. If you are wanting to see a child who licks their plate clean, then I encourage you to share the fun jobs. If your little one wants to measure out the dry ingredients and you are considering (dreading) the mess, I encourage you to “think long”. Sure, cleaning up spilled flour is NO FUN, but when your son steps out into life and knows how to cook a healthy homemade dinner for himself and his family, won’t you be proud? Yes you will. That pride starts with spilled flour.
Links to recipes that Kids LOVE!
Here are a few links that are kid tested and easy to cook! Try them today!
A VERSE TO SHARE
I think of this verse often when I look at my children. Lord knows we have had some bumps along the way. I don’t want to breach their confidences here – but let me just say – THERE HAVE BEEN BUMPS – lots of them. There have been times where I thought all was lost. There have been times that I have wondered at how a child who was taught so differently could behave the opposite. If you are a parent going through that right now, then please let me offer you this glimpse of hope. Things often turn around. It says so right here in Proverbs…
Proverbs 22 1-6
A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,
Loving favor rather than silver and gold.
The rich and the poor have this in common,
The Lord is the maker of them all.
A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself,
But the simple pass on and are punished.
By humility and the fear of the Lord
Are riches and honor and life.
Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse;
He who guards his soul will be far from them.
Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it.
***the photos on this page are compliments of the free open source photos at Pexels.com ***