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Giving kids greater independence and allowing them to build on skills is essential as they grow and develop. However, many parents are unsure how to do this within the kitchen. Building independence in the kitchen is important for your kids for the following reasons. It may take small steps, but those steps can lead to some big rewards.
Why independence in the kitchen is important for kids
Giving your child greater independence in the kitchen means that they can:
~ Build self-esteem and confidence in their own abilities
~ Understand that the kitchen isn’t dangerous when used responsibly
~ Gain pride in helping the rest of the family
~ Explore a better relationship with food and cooking
~ Broaden their skills in a way that will benefit them in later life
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Helping kids build self-esteem and confidence in their own abilities
Kids that get the chance to gain greater independence with tasks, whatever the situation, can see an increase in confidence and self-esteem. As adults, we can forget how good it feels as kids to feel like a “big boy/girl” for mastering new skills. There is also a desire in younger children to emulate their parents. This is why there are so many kitchen playsets for kids. So, allowing kids the chance to learn real, practical kitchen skills can make them feel great.
And, as with any new accomplishment, this can spur them on to try new things and continue to prove themselves. However, we can’t forget the importance of approval and praise in all this. These small steps towards independence can’t go unnoticed so be sure to tell them what a good job they did.
Helping kids understand that the kitchen isn’t dangerous when used responsibly
There are important life lessons to be learned in a kitchen. The problem is that in shutting kids out of the kitchen and emphasizing the dangers, we don’t fully explain the situation or give them a chance to learn. Some kids may continue to hold onto that idea of the kitchen being a dangerous place that they shouldn’t go near. From there, they might lose out on skills and experiences that are highly beneficial.
It helps to find a balance. Obviously, health and safety are important around the stove and sharp implements, and you need to teach kids to stay away. But, that doesn’t mean that kids that respect the rules can’t help out with safer tasks. They can then enjoy being part of the process and spending quality time with their parents.
Helping kids gain pride in helping the rest of the family
Some parents assume that all kids will hate chores and kitchen tasks, but that isn’t the case when kids gain something from the experience. Children encouraged to have greater independence in the kitchen can start with small tasks, like putting away dishes, setting the table, finding ingredients, and child-friendly food prep.
If they get a sense of accomplishment and praise for their work, they can happily take on more tasks in the future. With time, you can build on these responsibilities with greater roles and tools that are age-appropriate.
The added benefit here is that this sense of pride in being able to accomplish something in helping the family can have knock-on effects. Kids that learn the joy of helping out may develop a more generous and considerate mindset when a guest at another house or at school.
Helping kids explore a better relationship with food and cooking
As kids build on their skills and understanding of the kitchen, they can get more involved in cooking and meal prep. Some tasks may still be too complex or ill-suited depending on their age. But, they can still learn a lot by assisting and watching. This is a great opportunity to teach kids about the food they eat and where it comes from. Teaching kids about produce and using it in a fun way makes it more likely that they will eat healthier meals and make healthier choices when dining outside the home.
One of the best ways to start is through baking. Baking a weekend treat of cake or cookies is perfect because it isn’t too complex, kids are sure to want to eat their creations, and you can use the treat as a reward for good behavior. In fact, it could be a reward for those kids that were good and did all those household chores all week.
Helping kids broaden their skills in a way that will benefit them in later life
Giving kids greater independence in the kitchen isn’t just about short-term goals. It helps to see the bigger picture of your child’s experiences in a year, five years, or maybe even ten years from now. Small steps towards greater independence now mean that they could be a lot more confident in helping with meals and chores in a year. As they get older, into pre-teen years, they may be better able to do things all by themselves and create some basic meals. This could mean preparing breakfast all by themselves or dealing with the dishwasher just to be nice.
Of course, the end goal here is to have a teenager that is more than capable of taking care of themselves when left home alone or when they go off to college. This could be ten years or more down the line. But, the sooner you start, the broader their skillset when the time comes.
These 10 kitchen organization hacks for kids are perfect to help with independence in the kitchen…
Plates and bowls in bottom drawers
Dollar tree baskets in bottom cabinets
Bottom freezer storage for kids lunches they can pack themselves!
Snack station for kids
Easy access fridge ideas
Sticky notes instructions for packing their snacks for school
Labeling pins on bottom cabinets for independence in the kitchen
Cute and colorful kid dish drawer set up
5 minute Montessori setups for independence in the kitchen and beyond
In short, when you allow your kids a little more independence in the kitchen you set them on a much bigger path of self-development. This path may start with small steps, and you can see examples of those with the great hacks below.
But, kids can then progress to bigger achievements and lessons learned as they build knowledge and confidence.
The end result could be a capable little helper at mealtimes that completes their chores and is better prepared for the day they have the kitchen to themselves.
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