Because they remember to "simmer" down!
Keep your eyes on the pies!
Because it kept getting mixed up!
As a parent or caregiver, it can be hard to know when to give your kid a hand, and when to let them do things independently. Research suggests that sometimes letting kids take charge can have lasting benefits. A 2021 study found that when children aged 4 to 6 were allowed to lead tasks, their self-regulation skills (organization, working memory, staying focused, etc.) improved.
The kitchen often serves as the first authentic classroom for many children, presenting a perfect stage to let them take the lead. So, why not let them?
When your child takes the reins in the kitchen, they learn to follow a process, whether it’s measuring ingredients, chopping vegetables, or stirring a pot of soup. Each step requires focus and organization. In other words, it’s a fantastic opportunity for your little ones to practice self-regulation. Remember, it’s not about perfection! It’s about effort, engagement, and growth.
There’s nothing like the glow of pride on your child’s face when they serve a dish they’ve made themselves. Not only does cooking boost their self-esteem, but it also nurtures a sense of independence that will serve them well for the rest of their life.
Tip: Celebrate your child’s culinary achievements, no matter how small. Did they crack an egg without shell bits? That’s a win!
Research indicates that when children engage in cooking, they are more likely to try new foods and make healthier food choices. Kitchen explorations can be a stepping-stone towards a lifetime of nutritious eating.
Tip: Put kids in charge of salad dressing! Give them a squeeze-bottle of olive oil, a squeeze-bottle of vinegar, salt, pepper, and honey/sugar. Let them experiment with the proportions. A good guideline to start is a 3:1 ratio of oil to vinegar, but everyone’s palate is different. Once your child finds the taste they like, make a HUGE deal about "____'s Famous Salad Dressing" and serve it for dinner. Watch your kids gobble up salad! Once they’re comfortable with this process, they can play with adding fresh herbs, dried herbs, and/or spices.
So, there it is – your friendly reminder that sometimes the best parenting move is taking a measured step back. By letting your child take the lead in the kitchen, you provide a delicious, hands-on opportunity to practice vital skills.
Wondering what to make? Check out our free database of delicious, easy-to-make, kid-approved recipes at StickyFingersCooking.com/recipes!
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