Kids Safety 101
little kids learning to cook and making a mess

Teaching Kids to Cook the Safe, Responsible Way

Kids and kitchens seem like a disaster waiting to happen. There are just so many ways they could hurt themselves! Fire and knives are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to kitchen dangers.

But eventually, your children will need to know their way around a kitchen–unless they plan to eat takeout for the rest of their lives. Cooking and cleaning are vital skills that children need to master before they head out on their own. Since home economics is very rarely taught in schools anymore, the burden of that education falls on families.

Spending time in the kitchen together can be a wonderful bonding experience, as well as an opportunity to pass on valuable life skill and family history. Here’s how to make the most of it.

Set Boundaries

Create age-appropriate rules for using the kitchen. Little kids can help measure or stir, but they shouldn’t go near the knives or stove. Older kids can take a more active role with careful supervision but shouldn’t have free rein in the kitchen until they’re older.

It’s also a good idea to set expectations about the kinds of recipes you’ll make together. Many children will gravitate toward sweets every time, so teach them moderation by balancing cookies and cakes with healthier meals.

Stay Calm and Embrace Mistakes

Maybe there are cooking prodigies out there, but the majority of us learn in the kitchen by making mistakes. Every time a recipe goes wrong, frame it as a learning experience. Work out what happened and how to improve next time. Blaming kids for being wasteful or careless could shatter their confidence.

The kitchen requires patience and mindful awareness. A careless lapse in concentration could end up with someone needing stitches! Maintaining a relaxed yet focused attitude goes a long way toward keeping everyone safe.

Learn Together

What if you’re not the greatest cook in the world yourself? Teach your children the techniques you know, but be open to learning new things together. You can start with a cookbook or watch videos. The “Basics with Babish” series on YouTube is a good place to start.

The kitchen is also a place to teach history and science, politics, and math. It’s truly remarkable how many ways you can reinforce the lessons they learn in school while preparing dinner together. In addition, it’s also a chance to explore your own family’s history and cultural heritage.

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Erin Long