Cooking With Your Children
Why it's so important to spend time in the kitchen with your children -- and how you can get started
Some long-term benefits:
- Learning to cook is a skill your children can use for the rest of their
- Kids who learn to eat well may be more likely to eat healthfully as
- Positive cooking experiences can help build self-confidence.
- Kids who cook with their parents may even be less likely to abuse
Less likely to abuse drugs? It makes perfect sense if you consider a report
from The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia
University. In the report, Family Matters: Substance Abuse and the American
Family, the center recommends 10 steps parents can take to prevent
substance abuse. Among them are these three:
1. Be caring and supportive of your child.
Parents get many opportunities to compliment and support their children while
they're in the kitchen together. How important is this? Parental praise,
affection, acceptance, and family bonding -- as perceived by children -- are
all associated with a reduced risk of substance use. An excellent relationship
with either parent is associated with a reduced risk for substance use
than the average teen.
2. Open the lines of communication.
Kids having fun in the kitchen, elbow to elbow, are likely to interact with
each other and with their parents. Cooking together gives parents and children
time together to talk and share thoughts and stories. "Communication
doesn't start when your child is 17," says Ross Brower, MD, deputy medical
director for the Weill Cornell Medical Center. "It should start when your
child is 3."
3. Eat dinner together regularly.
Involving your kids in the kitchen is a big stepping-stone to getting them to
appreciate family meals. Because of challenging work, school, and sports
schedules, many families struggle to sit down to even one daily meal together.
But you can start by maximizing weekend opportunities to eat together.
How to Start Cooking with Your Kids
One good place to start is the first meal of the day: breakfast. Evidence
suggests that eating breakfast improves memory and test grades (some elements
of a healthy breakfast are high-fiber and nutrient-rich whole grains, fruits,
and dairy products).
Pressed for time in the morning? Start cooking breakfast with your kids on
the weekends, during the summer months, or on school holidays.