Get Your Kids in the Kitchen

Do you have a budding chef? How about a picky eater? And what about those curious kids? Most, if not all kids love to help in the kitchen. And getting involved in the kitchen is a great way to spend time together, teach them valuable skills for their future, and give them a confidence boost.

Oftentimes we are busy, tired, and don’t want the extra mess of kids in the kitchen. However, when we let our kids be involved on a regular basis, you’ll soon find they are actually really helpful and worth a few spilled beans.

There are plenty of reasons to get your kids involved in the kitchen. Let’s start with the most obvious—kitchen skills. As parents, we have the responsibility to get our children ready for adulthood. And one of the most valuable skills is that of cooking. They don’t need to be master chef’s before they leave the house, but they ought to have a few basic skills mastered. As they learn these skills, not only will they enjoy helping, they will gain confidence and perhaps gain a new found interest.

Also letting your kids help in the kitchen just might help your picky eater brave new ground. Kids who help prepare a food are more likely to try that new food. Seeing the food while it’s cooking or in process can dispel some of the mystery and help them get comfortable with the smells and appearance of a new food.

While you’re at it, let your kids make some of the decisions—peas or carrots with dinner, pasta or rice?

Preschoolers can help decide what side dish to make. Giving them some choices will help them feel involved and important. And when they get to make the decision, they will love eating their choice.

So let’s talk about some simple skills that most any kid can master. 

  • Pouring. It may be wise to start with some assistance, but with practice your child will be a master at dumping the measuring cups into the bowl.
    • Stirring and Whisking. Kids love to stir! You may need to give some direction on scraping the sides of the bowl or slowing down to keep the ingredients from flying through the kitchen, but this is a simple task they can accomplish. Scrambling eggs, mixing thin batters, or whisking together dry ingredients are a great place to start.
    • Grating Cheese. Make sure your grater is sturdy (like a wide box grater) and won’t topple easy. With a few instructions most preschoolers can handle this task.
    • Opening Cans. This may take a bit more hand strength, but with some practice kids can be great help here.
    • Cutting. Be sure your child has controlled fine motor skills first, but starting with soft foods (like avocados, olives, or grapes) is a great way to teach knife skills.  Using a butter knife, or even a plastic knife is great for beginners.
    • Oven Duty. Obviously this is for older kids who have had more experience, but if they have the proper equipment (i.e. full coverage oven mitts) they can handle even this task with supervision.

    (As always, use your judgement. You know your child best and what they can handle. Just don’t be afraid to help them learn new skills and progress in their kitchen confidence.)

    The key to teaching kids to help in the kitchen is to give them a chance! There will be times when things spill and everyone gets frustrated, but try to be patient and, most importantly, have fun! What are a few spilled beans in the grand scheme of things?! Enjoy spending time and making memories together!

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