In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I am a mom. Despite working full time, I try to cook at least one meal from scratch a day, if not more. Most of those meals I have a little help from my two year old. Some people think there is a certain age a kid has to be to let them in the kitchen. Some of those same people may not feel confident in the kitchen themselves, much less feel confident about a child in the kitchen. My child has been in the kitchen since she was able to walk; and now that she can comfortably reach the counter (with a bar stool) she actually helps make the food that she eats. Here are some of the reasons why my child is in the kitchen, and why other kids should be too. (in a totally non-cannibalistic way)~Kids love mystery in their learning and playing; not their food If you have ever seen a toddlers face when they come across something foreign on their plate, it probably reminded you of someone discovering a hair or worse. Some kids will dive in, but my child usually just pokes it until she is sure it won’t kill her, or until she decides she isn’t hungry enough to risk it. ~Kids naturally want to create Children create instinctively. They use blocks, crayons, toys, and their imaginations to create entire worlds that only they understand. When you let a child create they feel confident, excited, and like they have done something special. ~It’s a great way to bond without feeling guilty Sometimes adults get so caught up in what needs to be done that we feel guilt when we stop to just play. WHen you cook with your kid you are playing and bonding but still “being productive” in a totally delicious way. ~It helps your child focus on one task Most toddlers do not stay still and they don’t always finish what they start. Something about cooking makes a child focus. Give them something to stir or knead. It’s a little messy, but it’s a lot of fun for both of you. ~My kid is learning how to stay safe in the kitchen I would never hand my two year old a knife or use a deep fryer. I do however explain to her about the knife being sharp and make her watch the right way to hold it. As she gets older she will respect, not fear, the possible dangers and reduce them. ~I want my child to have a healthy relationship with food It’s hard to learn how to eat right if someone else is doing all the work. I don’t want my daughter to be scared of food or to abuse food. I want her to have respect for what she is putting in her body and to feel confident to make the right decisions when I am not able to make them for her (like when she gets into school). ~No one wants their kid to be a helpless adult Some people make poor food choices simply because they don’t know how to cook. It is a lot harder for an adult to learn how to cook than it is for a child. I want my child to not be limited simply because no one ever showed her how to make the food she wants/needs to eat.
Not every child will want to be in the kitchen. The younger they are, the more likely they are to stick with it. If you don’t give kids a chance to do more they simply won’t. So, if there is a child in your life, spend part of their time in the kitchen.