Empowering children with cooking

Do you sometimes find it difficult to get your child to sit down for meals?

Is it a struggle to convince him or her that vegetables are delicious and not at all lethal?

What if the solution was actually a fairly simple one?

Involving children in the preparation of meals may seem like a daunting task to any parent. It’s easy to focus on how much more difficult it would be to let them “help” rather than think of the perks. However, the benefits of allowing your child to assist you in the kitchen far outweigh the inconvenience. When children participate in the preparation of meals, they are more likely to be interested in sitting down for meals, to eat fruits and vegetables, to be healthy into adulthood.

Children who participate in the preparation and cooking of meals develop a vested interest in those meals. When a child is able to not only see the process but assist with it, they feel more connected and engaged and are more likely to eat the food. Something as simple as letting a child help wash vegetables is enough to create this interest. Depending on the age and skill level of the child, tasks can be as simple as spreading the ketchup on the meatloaf or adding the veggies to a bowl after you’ve chopped them. As a child grows and becomes more comfortable, the tasks gradually become more challenging. Over time, the child develops the skills he or she will need to eat healthy later in life.

Eating healthy is another benefit of allowing children to assist in the kitchen. Children who help their parents cook have a higher fruit and vegetable intake than those with no kitchen experience. Kids who help in the kitchen are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables and be less choosy about new foods. These behaviors set the foundation for lifelong health and children will grow up to be competent in the kitchen.

You don’t have to be a culinary master to empower your children with cooking. Even getting them involved once per week will make a big difference in the way they view mealtimes. It takes a little patience and some consistency but it’s very worth it in the long run.


Lenna Ahlers, RDN, LD, is a WIC dietitian at Panhandle Health District and a graduate of the University of Idaho Dietetic program.

Read More Healthy Community

The good and the bad

February 15, 2017 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press Idaho has some of the tightest state controls on liquor in the Union. The inability of a popular local restaurant to secure a full liquor license, which includes wine beer and spirits, has gotten muc...

Read More

Bulging disc, now what?

February 15, 2017 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press If you or your family members have been struggling with little or no relief from pain, then ask yourself the following questions. • Are you currently dependent on medications on a daily basis? • Ar...

Read More

Fruit of Bloom: Part 2

February 15, 2017 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press Last week, as starting my approach to fruit tree pruning, I mentioned I would do it in mini-series. So, let us begin with the young trees first. Most people purchase young trees and plant them on th...

Read More

Cleaning tile grout

February 15, 2017 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press If your tile grout is dirty and stained but still sound, consider whitening the grimy grout with colorant. It's an easy, inexpensive four-step process by DAP Kwik Seal Grout Recolor Kit. Pretreat: S...

Read More