Sorry, if that's not what you wanted to hear.
But, seriously. That’s the answer, folks.
We said it. The key to it all. Boom. We’re done here.
No, okay, we know that’s a lot easier said than done. And we know it’s not the answer to it all. We get the mind-boggling craziness that is toddlerhood, childhood, teenagers, heck for that matter, even adulthood pickiness when it comes to eating. One day they like it, the next they don’t. It’s nuts. But stick with us here. We believe we're onto something.
What does your kid really want? Goldfish crackers? Fruit cups? Chips? Juice boxes? They won’t eat veggies cooked, but they’ll eat them raw? They won’t eat veggies at all, but they love fruit? Any of this sounding familiar? That one time you tried to make those easy 2-ingredient cookies, you had your kids excited, but the result tasted disgusting so that was the end of that. Tried. Failed. Never again. Sound about right?
Well, our thoughts on this go back to teaching. Wah, Wah, Wah – no seriously – don't go all Charlie Brown teacher talking on us. Stay with us on this one. We’ll try not to bore you.
What we know to be true about teaching, at least, is that the more a child discovers and creates a concept on their own, the more they'll take it to be true and useful. Also, the more they see the role models in their life using, learning about, investing in, and doing said concept, the more likely they'll adopt it as their own, as well.
The more they use their own knowledge and understanding, the more they figure it out or use their own ideas, the more they see what goes into something to create something else – that’s the moment they appreciate it. That’s the moment they get it. It’s then, and really only then, that they accept it, apply it, make use of it, or learn from it. It has to be of their doing. They may never register as to how much coaching, support, prompting, guiding, modeling, or outright repeating they’ve endured, but when they’ve been apart of it, it’s their experience to keep.
So what does this all have to do with eating vegetables?
Well, it comes down to this: Get those kids in the kitchen, and you get in there with them, and start cooking - A LOT! Learn to cook - WITH THEM. Be in the kitchen, use the kitchen, talk about ingredients, make it apart of your life and it will soon become part of theirs. Have them pick the meals. Prepare the ingredients. Create the meal and serve it. Learn the fun stuff like using a knife properly, adding the spices, blending the sauce, and most importantly, adding the veggies to the pot. Boost the experience by growing your own garden and have them pick and use their own harvest. Participate in the grocery list making. Learn how the kitchen tools work. Learn about why we need to eat food, what kinds of food, and how food affects us. Model trying new foods, exploring new recipes, and making healthy messes in the kitchen.
Essentially - cook more, include them, eat better, appreciate food. Bada boom, bada bing.
Food for thought: If they never see how the meal was created, learn why they should be eating it, create something of their own ideas, share in the experience of cooking and eating, or see you taking an active role in creating food – why should they eat their veggies? Would you?
HERE'S OUR QUICK TIPS FOR COOKING WITH KIDS IN THE KITCHEN:
Have recipe books available for them to look through. Leave something good up on the screen on the laptop. Have ideas for meals readily viewable to catch the interest and get the ball rolling.
GIVE THEM SOME CONTROL
Have them pick out a meal. Seriously. You can do this.
KEEP INGREDIENTS STOCKED
Make sure you have the basics always in the cupboard and fridge, so that you can make a variety of recipes, or easily adapt them.
BUY GROCERIES WITH THEM
Make the grocery list together. Follow a budget. Show them how you stick to the list, how you follow the budget, how you plan meals for a whole family. You will be teaching them lessons far beyond simple mathematics and organization - these skills and experiences with you are invaluable to life itself. An added bonus is it may just help you stay on track a little better, too.
DON'T BE AFRAID TO LEARN WITH THEM
Not a lover of cooking yourself? Afraid to mess it up? Never made this recipe before? Great! That’s the best kind of teaching because they’ll be learning with you, which means you’ll be engaged and actively trying. They will feel more useful and respected as that are able to help you and work along side you. They will quickly take more ownership and feel more empowered.
TEACH AND TRUST THAT THEY CAN DO MORE THAN YOU THINK
They’ve been watching someone prepare food since birth. They’ve got this. They just need some support when needed, helpful advice, relaxed and welcoming space to learn, and respect.
CLEAN UP TOGETHER
Cleaning up is part of the process. Again, just like the cooking and meal picking, let them do it their way. Offer your help, guidance, and support when needed, but try hard not to take over and do it for them. Responsibility roots from respect. And respect starts when you can trust their capabilities to learn and do.
GET EXCITED, BUT NOT TOO EXCITED
Don’t be over the top dorky excited, that’s not cool Mom or Dad. Come on now, get with it. But enjoy it. This is quality time. This is memories in the making. Create an experience worth doing again, and again, and again. Not over the top planned, just wing it and go for it. These are life skills and you can be their ultimate teacher in it. Don’t overthink it but don’t let it go by the wayside, either. Take an active role in preparing your child for a healthy and happy future – teach them that anyone can cook and the more you do it yourself, the happier your body will feel. Let alone the money you’ll save!
MAKE TIME FOR IT
Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, don’t rush. We know you’ve got baseball practice and dance lessons, but sometimes if life is too scheduled, there’s no time to just relax and take in the simple life experiences, like cooking a meal and eating it together with family. Trust us, the memories made while the family cooks together is worth it. Now go on, get in your kitchen and start cooking and learning together as a family.
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