Eating is universal. We all eat. Most kids love to help out in the kitchen. Although it seems like a hassle to have them helping prepare our meals, it’s worth it. And Spring break may just give you the extra time to introduce your kids to meal preparation. So roll up your sleeves and let’s go.
Kids in the Kitchen
It was time to prepare dinner. My niece and nephew along with my children were all in the kitchen ready to help. Now, these kids ranged in age from two and a half to six years old. It would seem that the best way to get this crew to help would be to find them something to play with in another room.
But that’s not what happened. We were making a pizza and I was busy coordinating the effort and directing my merry little band of helpers. I had cut the meat and vegetables and grated the cheese earlier in the day. The kids got busy spreading the toppings on the crust. One had the pepperoni, one the mushrooms and so on. They loved it.
And when it was cooked they proudly talked about how they made dinner.
We know that family meals have positive benefits. But cooking and eating together is even better.
Research has shown that families that cook and eat together on a daily basis enjoy better mental, physical and social health. Because they are eating well they also do better in school. Kids who are involved with meal preparation tend to make healthier food choices, which leads to less risk of developing health problems like obesity or eating disorders.
They also are inclined to try more experimental foods, expanding their horizons and palates.
They develop a sense of self-sufficiency, of fun and when there is a family connection, a feeling of togetherness.
Preparing tasty and nutritious meals is a skill they will need when they are ready to head off on their own. The earlier they start, the better they will do. And while they are still at home, you are the beneficiary.
To start, create a kid-friendly work area. It might be easier for them to work at the kitchen table than at the counter. If they are working at the counter, make sure they have a sturdy chair or stool to stand on.
Then teach them the fundamentals. They need to learn how to measure, how to mix wet and dry and how to sauté.
Give them a crash course in nutrition. Let them know that they need to plan meals that include foods from a variety of food groups. I remember telling our kids that a salad had to have more than just carrots. They loved carrots.
There are good cookbooks available for kids. Once they’re old enough to read, go through them and choose ones appropriate for their age and that fit with how your family likes to eat.
It’s also fun to teach each of your children how to prepare a dish that is a family favourite. So that child becomes the expert at that dish and every time you are going to serve it, she is called to do the job.
Helping in the kitchen has many benefits. First, they want your attention while you’re trying to prepare meals, so you may as well have them working with you getting your attention and developing an important skill at the same time. They are learning about nutrition and about making choices and planning. And, their self-esteem is getting a healthy boost.
When we sit down to a meal that was prepared by 10-year-old Melissa, she is going to feel terrific about herself. If we have a cake for desert and three-year-old Juan stirred the dry ingredients, he will know that he had an important role to play in providing this cake that everyone is enjoying.
Make meal preparation a family affair. Then kick back and let someone else plan and cook your dinner.
Bring Kathy to your Community
Do you want to hear more? Kathy is always happy to come and speak in your community, at you event or as a workplace wellness presentation. On her website you can find more information on her material.
My presentations will share a basic value that I call
P — is a parenting plan
U — is unconditional love
R — is respect for your child as he is right now
E — is encouragement
Digital Books Make Parenting Information More Accessible.
There are times when digital is the perfect answer and let’s face it, on a holiday having access to hundreds of books on one small tablet is ideal. I always have my kindle with me when I travel.
There are lots of times when a busy parent would like to be able to simply read and my books are digital and make it easier for you to take a look.
Two of my parenting books started as print versions but the third is only digital. The first two are also now in digital format. Who’s in Charge Anyway? talks about roots. It provides a clear road map for parent to focus on the tough but rewarding job of raising children to be responsible, self-disciplined adults.
But Nobody Told Me I’d Ever Have to Leave Home talks about raising children to become capable young men and women.
The books are down to earth and common sense as well as easy to read. If you want some basic parenting tips and information these books are a good place to start.