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Should You Start Teaching Kids to Cook?
The Pros and Cons!!
How many people do you know who can’t (or couldn’t) cook, even as adults? (Maybe teaching kids to cook wasn’t on their parents to do list.)
Probably more than would like to admit it!
And, if we don’t DO SOMETHING to teach our kids how to cook for themselves, teach them how to make and enjoy REAL FOOD; then they may be headed for a future of being overweight, having diabetes, or mental illness. Sooner than you may think, too! Find out more here.
If you’re thinking mental health can’t be effected by what you eat, think again! What you eat determines how you feel, physically and emotionally! (This was what I focused on when I earned my degree in Psychology, way back when.)
Which is why it’s so important to start teaching our kids to cook, bake, and make their own food! We don’t want them living off of boxed and processed convenience foods for their entire life! So many different reasons why, too!
Don’t worry, the only negatives to teaching your kids to cook are all in your head.
Don’t believe me?
Well then, let’s go over the pros and cons of teaching your kids to cook!
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Cons of Teaching Kids to Cook
There are reasons for why you don’t want your kids to cook. However, they aren’t very good ones!
Fear of Them Hurting Themselves
One fear you probably have is your child hurting themselves in the kitchen.
But, guess what?
They are going to eventually, and there’s nothing you can really do about it, whether it happens under your care, or when they’re 40 years old and trying to feed their own family.
Seriously, I’m almost 28 and I burned myself using the oven a few years ago and the scar I had from that just disappeared not too long ago.
The difference is, if you teach your child how to cook for themselves, they’re not going to have as many accidents in the kitchen where they get hurt.
They’re going to know how to use the oven properly.
They’re going to know how to use knives the right way. (Go here and gain access to a free video so you know how to teach them to use knives the right way! Because I know how nerve wracking it can be to have your child use a knife for the first time.)
And, what’s the difference from them getting hurt in the kitchen versus them getting hurt on a playground? Or running outside? Or, walking up or down the stairs? Although, I don’t think kids ever really walk up or down the stairs, they tend to try to run on them, which is probably why they end up getting hurt on them in the first place (no matter how many times you tell them to walk).
Honestly, they’re less likely to get hurt in the kitchen, especially with your guidance.
Fear of Them Not Needing You Anymore
No one likes their kids to grow up, we all know that!
It’s like we blink and they’re 5 years older than they were a second ago!
So, knowing that they can make their own food and that we don’t need to do that anymore for them, it can be a little heart breaking.
But, it’s no different than them cleaning up after themselves, dressing themselves, or learning to use the toilet!
And, we’re still going to start teaching them those life skills as early as we can. We don’t want to be their maid or changing their diapers til their adults!
Be the responsible parent you are, and teach your child to cook, to bake, to be able to make themselves food when they’re hungry!
You’ll be thanking yourself when you do, and you don’t have to get up every five minutes next summer when they want snacks, or when you can sleep in an extra five minutes because they can pack their own lunch for school.
And, when they are adults, or almost adults, and see how little their friends know about eating well and cooking for themselves, they’ll thank you, as well. Maybe not right away, or in an obvious way. But, they’ll be thankful that they know how to feed themselves the right way!
Pros of Teaching Kids to Cook
Now that you know why you may not want to teach your kids to cook, and know now that that’s all on you; let’s go over why you should teach your kids to cook!
Knowing Your Child Will Be Able To Feed Themselves As Adults
We went over this above, but let’s recap!
Did you know how to cook when you became an adult?
As sad as it was, if it wasn’t ready to make from a box (let me rephrase- if it wasn’t as simple as boiling water and throwing it in so it could make itself), or wasn’t a pb&j, I didn’t know how to make it!
I still remember my husband teaching me how to cook brown rice in our first apartment, after I gave birth to our first daughter. Like, it was bad, how little I knew about cooking. Don’t get me wrong, I could make some food, like cookies. I could soo make cookies, like Christmas cookies, but that’s about where my skills in the kitchen ended.
Don’t let your kids leave your home not knowing how to cook for themselves!
This has been my goal with my own kids. Granted, my oldest is 7. I have no doubts that she’ll be able to make herself food when she’s an adult!
…Unlike some co-workers I used to share a break room with, whom, on more than one occasion, had set fire to both the microwave and toaster oven!
Taking a Night Off From Cooking Dinner
Has there ever been a night where you just don’t feel like cooking?
Or, maybe you just had a baby and it’s difficult for you to get up and cook right now.
Well, if you teach your kids to cook, then maybe you won’t have to!
My oldest, who was 6 at the time, learned how to boil water and make pasta all by herself before I had my third child. She could also make sandwiches and knew how to get snacks for herself and sister (age 3). Basically, she had the cooking skills I did when I had her! It was such a relief when I didn’t have to get up all the time to get them food the summer their youngest sister was born.
Want to feel the same relief and take a night off from making dinner?
Lightening Your Workload In The Kitchen
Even if your child isn’t ready to make meals and snacks themselves, yet, they can still help you with some tasks.
Depending on their age, they could help with:
- cutting up soft fruits with butter knives for fruit salad
- washing and tearing lettuce for regular salads
- cooking pasta
- getting a bag of frozen veggies out and heating them up in the microwave
- mixing batter for pancakes or dough for cookies
- making overnight oats for breakfast
- measuring out ingredients
- and so much more!
There are a limitless amount of little tasks you can have your kids help you with in the kitchen. As simple as mixing ingredients together (a great task for a child who just turned two), to more difficult tasks like measuring out ingredients and prepping the food to go in the oven.
Gasp, or even using the oven or stove by themselves!
Increasing Your Child’s Confidence and Self Esteem
Teaching your kids how to cook, and trusting their abilities in the kitchen won’t only help them be able to feed themselves when they are older, and now, but it will also improve the way they think of themselves.
If you’re constantly treating them like they can’t do anything in the kitchen, then guess what?
They’re going to think they are incapable of doing anything in the kitchen, and possibly in other areas of life, as well.
If you treat them with the respect they deserve in the kitchen, aka, you let them help as much as they can (based on their age and maturity level), then they will think of themselves as being capable little beings!
If they believe they are capable of doing more, then they will be able to do more, and feel better about themselves because they can!
How many times does your child ask if they can help in the kitchen, or elsewhere in the house?
I bet it depends on how your responses were to them as little kids.
If you let them help from day one of them asking to help, which will happen because all little kids want to help before being taught otherwise, then they’ll want to help in the kitchen and other places of the home. They’ll do what they can to help and feel valued when they do!
If you refuse to let them ever help you in the kitchen then they’ll think they’re incapable of doing so, and it may reflect on how they view themselves. They may think they aren’t good enough, old enough, or smart enough to help you.
I know, it’s hard to always let them help in the kitchen. Kids can potentially make more mess and take a longer time than we do in the kitchen.
But, it’s important to let them help, feel valued, and to learn how to help in the kitchen. Even if it’s something small, like starting to peel bananas and freeze them for banana ice cream for dessert, while you’re making the meal for dinner.
All kids like to feel included, so include them!
Giving Your Child A Valuable Life Skill
There are many life skills that you’ll be teaching your children while they are living in your home. Isn’t that what we’re always doing?! Teaching them how to live, everything we do shapes how they live as adults, whether we realize it or not.
And, even if your child goes to public or private school, or any school outside the home, they’re not necessarily going to learn how to cook for themselves. Unless, of course, they go to a cooking school!
But, it’s cooking, keeping a home, and dealing with money that are the things so many adults struggle with, and that aren’t taught in school!
There’s a meme floating somewhere out there that insists on schools having a mandatory class called ‘Life Skills’ that all students need to take to graduate!
Unfortunately, this class does not exist in any regular school!
Sure, there’s home economics and health. But, those will maybe teach you a few simple snacks you can make, that aren’t always healthy, how to make a drawstring bag with a sewing machine, and how to ‘balance a checkbook’. Who uses checkbooks anymore, anyways?
Health teaches nutrition in the driest way possible! And, as I remember it, it taught more about mental health than anything else. Which is great, obviously, as I have a degree in psychology, I know the importance of good mental health. But, I also know the importance of eating right to maintain good mental health!
And that, along with cooking actual meals, isn’t taught in schools, it’s something you need to teach to your kids, with or without help!
Teaching Your Child How to Eat Real Food the RIGHT Way
You can imagine how much kids were taught about eating healthy when you think about how most college kids eat; ramen noodles, eating out, or other unhealthy food that’s super easy to make and is cheap.
You know what else is cheap?
Healthy, whole foods!
Fruits and vegetables are cheap. Beans are cheap. Rice is cheap. Even compared to the processed and prepared foods, quinoa is cheap, along with whole grain pasta and bread!
It is not expensive to eat well!
Let me say that again….it is not expensive to eat well.
What your kids need is knowledge on how to cook the whole (inexpensive) food!
They need to be taught which foods will give them energy, feel satisfied, relieve their sugar cravings, and prevent them from needing to eat again in ten minutes or an hour!
Believe it or not, they don’t learn this in school.
They learn this from YOU.
They learn this from watching what you eat. And yes, they probably learn your bad eating habits before they pick up the good ones. Which is why you need to be intentional with teaching them healthy eating.
*hint- Teaching your child to eat healthier will help you eat healthier, as well!
Let’s go over that one more time, because it’s important!
Teaching your kids to eat healthy, whole foods (for cheap), will help YOU eat healthier, too!
It all starts with YOU! Whether or not you need help teaching your child to cook, or teaching yourself, is up to you.
Luckily, for you, there are people in this world dedicated to helping teach kids how to cook real food in the kitchen. They know the phases and stages for kids cooking, and as parents themselves, have a solid understanding of what kids are usually capable of and at what ages. Along with the order in which kids should learn certain skills in the kitchen.
One such wonderful mom is Katie Kimball. Now, she doesn’t just have one perfectly well behaved child who she has magically trained to cook meals and make snacks by themselves. She has four kids, and has taught hundreds of other kids and families how to cook real food!
Katie is the creator of the course Kids Cook Real Food, an online course that teaches your kids, and you, how to cook.
Helps with More Than Just Being Able to Eat
As you can see, the pros heavily outweigh the cons.
And the cons are simply your fears of not trusting their ability and fear of your child growing up and not always needing you to be right by their side doing everything for them anymore.
Both of which, are perfectly acceptable fears to have. No one wants their babies to grow up so fast. We want to keep them home and safe with us, where we can protect them and care for them always!
But, eventually they will need to grow up, and when they do, both they and we will appreciate the fact that they know how to cook healthy meals for themselves. And that they won’t start getting sick or being diagnosed with diseases or health disorders that could have been prevented by simply knowing how to eat right!
So, do what you need to do. Teach your kids to cook!
If you don’t know how, or need help with your kids in the kitchen, be sure to check out Kids Cook Real Food!
Katie understands what it’s like, she has four kids of her own and has taught many more kids how to cook for themselves and their families. She understands the fear of letting your kids use knives or the stove for the first time. Which is why teaching kids to use knives starts with toddlers and butter knives.
She’ll answer some of the most common questions parents have about kids cooking, such as:
- What age should a child start cooking?
- What should an 11 year old be able to cook?
- At what age can a child use a knife?
- What can a 7 year old cook?
- Why is cooking important for preschoolers?
- What to teach kids about cooking?
- How can toddlers help in the kitchen?
- And so many more!
And, you know what, it works. I had my daughters using butter knives to cut soft fruit from the time they were two; they loved it!
The thing is, kids need to know a lot more than just chopping bananas, to cook for themselves.
You are the one who needs to start teaching your kids to cook, but Katie can guide you on how to do so, so check out her course!
Your kids won’t stay little forever!