Let Them Help, It Helps Them
You will often find, "Cook with them" or "Let them help in the kitchen" high up on the list of suggestions on how to get kids to eat healthier foods. I agree. I do sometimes see parents or even teachers letting the kids help when it comes to making cookies or baking a cake, but it's not as often that I notice them help make a healthier meal or a salad. I do think it's good to get them involved in helping prepare many different foods so they learn more about them and may be more interested in eating that food they had a hand in. I'm not saying my kids help me on a daily basis but they do love to help and do it often enough that they feel involved and interested. They do seem more enthusiastic about the meal and even more eager to try it because they're proud of their contribution. I also may go further than some would ever consider at my sons' ages; like letting them use knives.
They need to learn; so who better to teach them and what safer place than at home? It took a while for my husband to let my eldest son use a chef's knife, but even he relaxed a bit and realized we needed to show him how to handle it properly and to position his fingers that hold whatever he's cutting. Now they all help. My eldest isn't very coordinated but he's doing a fine job and loves to feel empowered with the trust we've given him. Since he was 8 years old he was confident enough to fix himself sandwiches and other quick meals when he is hungry. We even gave my youngest a steak knife at the dinner table since he was 4. I feel it's safer to give a sharp knife than a dull one. Again, as long as they're supervised and shown the proper way to handle the knives, they should be fine and it should be good for their confidence.
Recently in my son's kindergarten class my husband and I were showing the kids how to use knives so they could help make "Stone Soup". One parent seemed shocked that I let my children use knives (under supervision). She said she'd never get hers to do that or help much besides baking. Granted she has triplets so it's trickier and they're all young. I suggested she might try working one at a time as a special Mommy and son time that they'd all get their turn at her attention and learn... but I'm not a mom of triplets, so I really don't have a right to say/judge. (It's a family trait-- giving unsolicted advice.)
So, get them involved in food preparation, even teach them how to use knives-- they'll be better off for it all! And before you know it, they might create a great meal for you! And you might be surprised in the foods they're more likely to eat when they have a hand in the preparation.
My Kids Really Eat This ...and yours can too!
previously published on mykidsreallyeatthis.com