I wrote this post as a participant in the Eat, Play, Love blog carnival hosted by Meals Matter and Dairy Council of California to share ideas on positive and fun ways to teach children healthy eating habits. A list of other registered dietitians and moms who are participating in the carnival will be listed at the bottom of this post or can be found on Meals Matter.
As parents, we intuitively want to do the best for our kids - and often we start off with great gusto only to run out of steam if what we are doing isn’t getting great results. I ran a couple of focus groups with teens to find out the sort of things we could do to make them want want to cook. What we found out was seriously enlightening, somewhat amusing and really helpful!
We discovered eight key points… (I still struggle to keep a straight face when I recall how deadly serious they were!?!) These points could verge on being precocious – but it certainly helps us as parents if we know what they are thinking!
In their words, this is what parents should do…
1. Let me choose what I cook – “Simple – if I don’t like it, I’m not going to want to cook it”.
2. Get me a recipe that works – “If I go to the effort of cooking I want it to work… I don’t want have to have to keep running to you to ask what to do next”.
3. Have all the ingredients - “Don’t expect me to be able to substitute ingredients when I am just starting off on this cooking lark!”
4. Stay out of the kitchen – “Don’t be a helicopter hovering around. Give me some space to work things out – but stick around the house in case I need to ask”.
5. Resist ‘you should have’ comments’ – “If I want to know I’ll ask”.
6. Be impressed – “If you expect me to do this again you need to be impressed , so you might have to ‘fake it ‘til I make it’. And don’t go telling all your friends if I burn something or do something stupid”.
7. Don’t nag – “If I take a bit longer than you do or I don’t clean up exactly like you do, cut me some slack – I have just cooked you a meal!”
8. Cut me a deal! – “If you expect me to buy into this ‘cook a meal once a week idea’ there has to be something in it for me . This ‘skills for a lifetime’ doesn’t really flick my switch – but money for the movies or that new dress does. You are probably going to buy me new shoes at some stage anyway, you may as well make me think I have earned them.”
I am totally convinced of the benefits of kids being able to cook.Your child doesn’t need to be a budding chef, even a repertoire of half a dozen meals sets them well ahead of many kids.
Being able to cook will help to set your child up to take responsibility for what they eat. The fantastic bonus is that every time they cook, you can get a night off cooking and they get skills to last a lifetime - a win:win for everyone!!
Don't stop here! Join the carnival and read other Eat, Play, Love blogs from dietitians and moms offering the best advice on raising healthy eaters. And if you don't get enough today, for more positive, realistic and actionable advice from registered dietitian moms, register for the free, live webinar Eat, Play, Love: Raising Healthy Eaters on Wednesday, May 18.
The Best-Kept Secret for Raising Healthy Eaters, Maryann Jacobsen, MS, RD
Feeding is Love, Jill Castle, MS, RD, LDN
5 Quick Ways to Prepare Veggies with Maximum Flavor, Dayle Hayes, MS, RD
The Art of Dinnertime, Elana Natker, MS, RD
Children Don’t Need a Short Order Cook, Christy Slaughter
Cut to the Point – My Foodie Rules, Glenda Gourley
Eat, Play, Love – A Challenge for Families, Alysa Bajenaru, RD
Eat, Play, Love ~ Raising Healthy Eaters, Kia Robertson
Get Kids Cooking, Jessica Fishman Levinson, MS, RD, CDN
Kid-Friendly Kitchen Gear Gets Them Cooking, Katie Sullivan Morford, MS, RD
Kids that Can Cook Make Better Food Choices, Glenda Gourley
Making Mealtime Fun, Nicole Guierin, RD
My No Junk Food Journey – Want to Come Along? , Kristine Lockwood
My Recipe for Raising Healthy Eaters: Eat Like the French, Bridget Swinney MS, RD, LD
Playing with Dough and the Edible Gift of Thyme, Robin Plotkin, RD, LD
Picky Eaters Will Eat Vegetables, Theresa Grisanti, MA
Raising a Healthy Eater, Danielle Omar, MS, RD
Putting the Ease in Healthy Family Eating, Connie Evers, MS, RD, LD
Raising Healthy Eaters Blog Carnival & Chat Roundup, Ann Dunaway Teh, MS, RD, LD
Soccer Mom Soapbox, Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD
Teenagers Can Be Trying But Don’t Give UpDiane Welland MS, RD
What My Kids Taught Me About Eating Mindfully, Michelle May, MD