As part of the process of growing up, children are constantly exploring and testing limits, and it is every parent’s job to set healthy boundaries that encourages growth and exploration, but discourages unruly behaviour. It is one of the biggest challenges of any parent to instill effective discipline. Many studies have shown and many parents attest that when kids learn cooking it can improves their discipline.
The idea of kids in the kitchen may be a scary thought for some mothers. Even before getting started, the mess and clean up of the end is already on their minds. Setting that aside, however, and looking at the bigger picture will show when kids cook alongside their parents, it can go hand in hand with disciplining them.
First, when kids cook recipes, it requires step by step processes.
This means that parents will be teaching their children to be organised. Even if a toddler just turns the pages of the recipe book, or if an 8-year-old practices reading by saying each step out loud as their parent does the work, the lesson constantly being taught is that one must follow steps to get to a good end result. Following steps and having the patience to see each one through requires discipline. So without telling a child that they have to follow the steps and they have to be patient, they learn it, and this understanding cascades to other tasks they may have at home or in school.
Strengthen this lesson by using a specific tone of voice with the child when cooking. That same soothing tone can be used when asking the child to do other things or to follow other instructions. Over time that tone will cue them into the mindset that there are steps to follow, and they will be more open to following other instructions. Many teachers in pre-schools and cooking schools for kids often take on specific tones for specific tasks and modes of discipline. Reinforcing this at home will greatly help a child’s discipline.
Second, when kids learn cooking it teaches them to be careful and not to be wasteful.
Asking a child to pour without spilling, stir without making a mess, or bring something across the kitchen without dropping it teaches a lot of care and discipline. Overall, the carefulness being taught makes them aware of their actions, even while having fun. Children who are aware of the effect they have on their surroundings are not only more considerate, but they are also less likely to brat out when being disciplined.
Constantly explain to a child why they are being careful. This teaches them logic and cause and effect. Like every school drawing, children are always proud of their final product, what more a carefully prepared dish?
Third, involving the child in the entire cooking process, including shopping for ingredients, teaches great discipline.
Don’t just leave the kids in the kitchen, teach them to do it all! Having to visit a grocery store and only buying what is needed for one recipe teaches a child that not everything needs to be bought just because they want it. If an ingredient is not needed, it stays on the shelf, and soon they will be able to tell the difference between wants and needs, and that valuable lesson of discipline will help them throughout their lives.
No matter the age, children are a challenge, but finding them meaningful tasks that they can do with and for the family often make disciplining a much easier job. Plus, no household with kids cooking will ever be boring, and a childhood with healthy adventures–even if it’s just kitchen exploration–is sure to be a happy one.