The Benefits of Cooking with Your Kids
In a world where the average family barely has time to make dinner, it may seem like a whole lot of extra work to have your children join in. At first it very well may be, but teaching our children the importance of home cooking far outweighs the extra patience we may need. Having your child learn at a young age why and how to eat healthy is a value and skill that will enhance their quality of life immensely. I think we can all agree on this, but there are also many other benefits to getting your kids of all ages involved in the kitchen!
Teaching about Real Food & Ingredients
There is no better way to teach your children about real ingredients and real food then by having them handle it. Hands on learning is great for kids of all ages. Having them involved in the process will engage all their senses and create a lasting memory. They will also be able to see all the ingredients going into a dish that makes it taste so yummy. This can help give them an understanding of all the extra unhealthy ingredients we see in processed foods that are not necessary to make healthy delicious meals. It can also help our kids try new foods if they are taste testing during the process! You know how picky little ones can be.
Time spent together cooking can create space for beautiful connections. Taking away all the distractions of our everyday lives and focusing on a task with a loved one can be a great bonding experience. There is time to talk, share, and create. It may be one of the only times of the day you have with your child. Maybe you are able to spend special alone time with each of your children by cooking with them on different nights, or maybe it’s a great big party with everyone helping out. However it looks, it’s time spent together, which we all need more of!
Self Confidence & Self Reliance
I hear a lot of working parents’ concerns about their children eating junk food. Many older children come home hungry and rummage through the cabinets and snack on whatever they can find. The reality is they don’t have many other options if they aren’t comfortable preparing food in the kitchen. Even preparing a healthy snack may be outside of their know how. Now imagine a pre teen who has been cooking with his parents since he was a toddler. At this point in his life he is confident and comfortable enough to pull a few ingredients and make a simple meal or snack for himself and his younger siblings. This self reliance and confidence will not only help your child eat healthier but will help them feel confident and capable in other areas of their lives too.
Appreciation & Mindfulness
Having your children help you cook will show them all the hard work that goes into getting a meal on the table. This will help them appreciate what you do more and even better, it will help them appreciate a home cooked meal anywhere from anyone. Appreciating our food helps us eat more mindfully, which not only supports our digestion and assimilate of our food better but also enhances our relationship with food.
Helping Out & Responsibility
Helping out feels good for children. Complimenting them on a dish they helped make will make that child feel great! Giving your older child more responsibilities can also help them feel like a role model to their younger brother or sister. Having the older child help prepare the younger child’s food can help them feel they are caring for their sibling.
Children of all ages can learn in the kitchen, even infants, as they absorb all the activities and sounds of their surroundings. Making sure to give children age appropriate tasks and practicing safety is very important. Before you know it, you may have a little sous chef that makes your meal preparation far easier than you could have ever imagined! It may take a while to get there, but trust the process, and enjoy it too!