You glance sideways while doing dishes and say to your 2-year-old, “Stop banging on the dishwasher with knives…”
And THEN your brain clunks into gear and you realize: Gah! Knives!
Of course your next move is to calmly remove the knives from the tiny child’s hands and figure out a safer way to keep them away for good…right?
Our parenting might not always be perfect, and our cooking probably isn’t either. But that’s no reason to give up on either job.
In fact, it’s the perfect reason to combine the two.
You’ll get great parenting practice by inviting your kids to cook with you, as long as you lay the groundwork and avoid these pitfalls:
You Should Never Let Your Child:
Get anywhere near a hot stove or oven without proper training: We tell our kids from a very early age, “Hot! Hot! Owwwwww!” every time we or they are anywhere near a stove. Allowing a child to help at the stove without first instilling a healthy fear of the potential danger is asking for trouble.
Cut an apple with a butter knife: If you try to teach your child how to cut hard things with dull knives, they’ll be both frustrated and unsafe. Butter knives don’t do apples. They do bananas. Far better to trust your kid with a real knife after teaching him how to use it properly than sabotage their learning by teaching them something that doesn’t work. Plus, butter knives could slip on an apple and end up hurting the user badly anyway since you have to use so much force to attempt to get through the apple. (I’ll help you teach your kids to be kid-safe around sharp knives!)
Say “I Can’t!” Promise you’ll never ask them to do something that’s beyond their ability, and they need to promise to have an “I’ll try it” attitude. It’s ok to be nervous or unsure about a new skill, but if they never try, they’ll never learn.
Say “That’s gross!” or “I don’t like it!” When trying new foods or a new recipe, we train our kids to say, “It’s not my favorite,” or, “I don’t care for it,” if they don’t like it. We keep positive attitudes about trying new things and never insist that they eat an entire serving of something they truly don’t like, but one “no-thank-you-bite” is required before they can say, “No, thank you,” to the rest.
Eat different meals than the rest of the family: You decide what is served at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, parents. DO make sure there’s something familiar at each meal – I like to give additional choices on the side when I’m trying a new healthy recipe that might not be so kid-friendly. DON’T give in to the pressure to cook twice, even if you don’t really mind the time it takes. The beauty of eating as a family is eating with the family – opportunities to try new foods together and enjoy the wide variety of flavors God has created.
Leave their dishes on the table after a meal. You’re no busboy any more than you’re a short-order cook (see number 5). Even at age 2 and 3, please, please expect your kiddos to carry their own dishes to the kitchen, and by 4 or 5 they should know how to load them in the dishwasher. If you really want to teach responsibility, use breakable plates. (I’ll teach your littlest ones how to carry them carefully!)
Escape your household without any vital kitchen skills. My husband occasionally imagines his life as a bachelor, and he shudders to think what he would eat (so do I!). I know that all kids can learn basic kitchen skills like chopping vegetables, sautéing and steaming, making eggs and pancakes, baking, and following recipes. You do not want your child subsisting on frozen pizzas and take-out Chinese all through their 20s, and believe me – no one else is going to teach them to cook.
Home Economics was dying when I was lucky enough to have it in middle school, and I fear it’s nearly gone the way of the dinosaurs and the dodo bird now.
Even though we need to eat every day, multiple times, our schools cannot prioritize teaching kids to cook. Apparently, the basic need of eating is not as connected to procuring and preparing food as I might think.
In my household, food is purchased the way it comes out of the ground. It is prepared and seasoned at home, where it is eaten.
Cooking is most certainly a basic need, and it’s a skill vital to pass on to my children.
I’ve been taking specific time teaching them to cook this summer, and with my teaching background, I can’t wait to help YOU teach your kids to cook as well.
Even if you don’t feel like you’re a perfect chef yourself.
My Kids Cook Real Food eCourse is a down-to-earth kids’ cooking class that brings basic kitchen skills to their level, with phrases like “Pacman the lid,” “Snowplow it flat,” and “Do the sizzle test!”
We have fun in the kitchen while teaching sharp and dull knife skills, baking, stir fry, following recipes, and so much more – over 30 skills that will take your kids ages 2-teen from, “What’s for dinner, Mom!??” to, “What would you like for dinner?”
Wouldn’t that be wonderful?
Each lesson includes healthy recipes for kids to cook, but they’re not dumbed-down kid recipes. They’re real recipes, written in a kid-friendly way.
The whole eCourse is allergy-friendly with adaptations and substitutions provided whenever the main recipe has gluten in it (although there are some, like cracking eggs and scrambling eggs, that just can’t be done without eggs).
It’ll be WAY better than that kids’ cookbook on your Amazon wish list: