Posts Tagged ‘food’
Cooking is one of the few skills that can cross many boundaries and really influence a child’s development. Studies show a child who can cook is more likely to make better food choices – better food choices. So a child who can cook is on the road to being food savvy.
It is not only a soufflé that rises when a child cooks for their family… When a child masters a skill there are lots of outcomes.
- gains self-esteem
- gains a sense of importance
- feels they are able to make a meaningful contribution to their family
- is proud of their achievement
- is better equipped to look after themselves
- is able to look after others
- gains confidence and competence
- feels empowered to try more complex tasks
- is able to use preparing food as an act of service
- is able to use food as a means of expressing love
- develops self-management skills
- develops self-discipline
- develops self -espect
- develops budgeting skills.
I struggle to think of another set of everyday skills that directly impacts a child’s development and health.
Consider the three different perspectives below… mine, a teen’s and that of a younger child.
5 Reasons to cook – from my perspective
- Success builds a child’s self-esteem and confidence – cooking is no exception.
- A sense of contribution, belonging, importance and pride develops as children master skills – cooking is an excellent way to foster this.
- Learning about food fosters personal responsibility – you can feel confident that your children will be better equipped to look after themselves.
- Cooking is a life skill. It’s like riding a bike – once they have ‘got it’ they are away.
- You can get the odd night off!
5 Reasons to cook – from a teenage perspective
- You don’t have to put up with food you don’t like – you call the shots!
- It feels great if you can cook for friends and family – lots of compliments are good!
- Being able to cook gives you leverage… ‘If I cook dinner, can I borrow the car? Money for the movies? New shoes?’
- Knowing you can cook is quite empowering. You can make good food choices so you can get better skin, have more energy, be at a good weight – it’s all your choice.
- It’s quite good fun cooking!
5 Reasons to cook – from a tween’s perspective
- You can eat the ingredients while you are cooking and then get to choose the best piece.
- Your mum gets in a good mood if you help (cringe – this was a sage observation from my youngest son!).
- You can make sure what is being cooked is something you like.
- If you do the cooking you don’t have to help with the clean up.
- It’s fun cooking.
The thought of learning a new life skill will simply not engage the average kid – especially when described as a life skill. However you start talking about something they want or need and you have their total attention.
I have found deal-making works well. Along the lines of ‘If I do this for you, could you do this for me’. You may be surprised to find how kids respond to this; many are masters of negotiation in other things so they will quickly work it out. I think it is quite funny when my children say one of the main reasons they wanted to be able to cook was because it gave them leverage. That’s fine if that’s what motivates them. It also has helped our family operate more like a team with everyone contributing.
Ironically, often as parents we have to buy things for our kids anyway. Take a special pair of shoes for example. Both parties win if you suggest that if they cook dinner each Tuesday they will be able to get those shoes. This is not bribery. Bribery implies that one person wins and the other loses. This is far better than that – there are winners all round. Your child learns a skill for a lifetime, they get the shoes, the family bond grows stronger and you get a night off – it’s the epitome of a win:win situation.
No matter what perspective you are coming from
the outcome is the same –
your child gets a skill for a lifetime
which is undoubtedly to
his or her advantage.
I am often asked when is the right time to start your teenagers cooking and my response is simple. Now. It’s like the old saying “ When is the best time to plant a tree ? thirty years ago, When is the second best time? Now!” Similarly it’s ideal to start an interest in food and being in the kitchen when they’re really young – but if you haven’t done that, and indeed many of us haven’t, now is certainly the second best time.
I am not suggesting you swing into a major campaign to make them totally competent, but I am saying if there is any glimmer of interest then encourage it. And if there is no glimmer look for ways to start one. It might be something as simple as asking them if there is anything at the supermarket they would like you to get so you can fix their favourite meal… you might suggest they ‘have a go’ to cook a meal. Do a deal – if I do this for you could you possibly do dinner – you may be surprised how much they like it when you give them some space, freedom to choose what to cook and let go for it! My children especially like it when I get out of the kitchen so they can get on with it – and I think this is good part of the independence thing - although they usually like it if I am within ’yelling distance’ so I can answer any questions. Or if you think a meal is too much – get them to stir fry the vegetables or mash the potatoes. Step one has got to be engagement followed by participation. (more…)
Over the past few weeks I have been thrilled that media is supporting this initiative to get teens into the kitchen – I would like to share one of the best examples of a teenage publication encouraging and supporting teens to ‘have a go’ in the kitchen! Thanks Creme – I am convinced that if teenage media supports parents in encouraging them to cook then we will make a difference! Cooking just has to be cool if we are to make any impact on our kids eating habits!
I think as parents we need to get out of the kitchen and give our kids some space to experiment. When I was learning to cook my mother used to give ‘helpful’ advice pointing out things that could have done better and I simply hated it. Perhaps it runs in the family, but I suspect it is more a ‘teenage’ thing, but I can see the same with my children. Give them constructive criticism only if it is invited – actually this works in all areas of teenage parenting – I have bitten my tongue so often it is quite tattered!
So I firmly advise you to look for the good points and wait until you are asked before you splash out with advice. Try and suppress the ‘you should’ve’ or ‘next time’ comments as long as you can – the world will be a happier place!! It’s my Turn to Cook does offer a forum for your teen to get advice so encourage them to facebook or twitter Claire – or leave comments on her blog. Same goes with you, don’t be shy – leave me a comment below – I would love to hear from you!
Did you resolve to get your teenager to cook an evening meal once a week? From experience I can tell you that there a two immediate advantages if you did (and I’m not sure which is the correct order of importance?!?) 1. Your teen gets a skill for a lifetime and 2. You get a night off.
I challenge you to rethink or recommit to a resolution ‘2010 is the year my teenager becomes a successful cook!’ Spread the family work load and prepare your teen for the big wide world – everyone wins!
While doing focus groups with teenagers about nutrition messages to use in this strategy I can honestly say I laughed a lot! Perhaps I’ve been tarred with the ‘politically correct’ brush for a bit long – but the message from the teenagers was clear – “just say what you mean”. Unanimously they agreed purist nutrition messages “are boring and you just ignore them”.
So whilst from a technical aspect some of the messages may be simplified too much or are too generalised – the core message is based on robust science. They might use language that makes you cringe – but the net effect was that we were able to come up with 10 foodie rules they could relate to.
Over the next few weeks I will be covering each of the foodie rules in my blog - but to give you a sample of what we came up with here are three of the ten. (You can get the full set in the free eBook – download on www.itsmyturntocook.com or follow the link on the right hand column)
- All food is ok, but don’t do binge or excess – it’s how much and how often you eat a food … 2 or 3 chocolate biscuits are ok – a packet isn’t… a can or glass of coke is fine – 2 litres is over the top…
- If it’s greasy or fatty you need to hold back - this stuff blocks your arteries, makes you fat and gives you yuk skin!
- Don’t watch too much TV (another strange nutrition goal) but people who sit around for hours are far more likely to eat junk food. Fact: too much junk food gives you a big bum.
My vision in the development of It’s my Turn to Cook! is to inspire teenagers to ‘give cooking a go’. All of the recipes we developed for the eBook are easy to make – we have tested them with lots of teenagers and know that they will easily make them and more importantly – they will like the taste of them. We have kept everything light hearted and you can tell Claire really has had fun. Her enthusiasm is infectious!
The specific objectives of this project are to impart food skills, to treat food as ‘part of the package of a healthy lifestyle’, to understand the importance of good food choices and to develop self responsibility.
So whilst the planning of project is very defined, and serious in intent, the delivery aims to present in a manner that teenagers will enjoy and respond to. We are confident It’s my Turn to Cook! can make a difference.
A while ago I was giving a food and nutrition presentation when a very concerned mother came up afterwards asking advice on what to do with her son who ate 2 litres of ice cream every night after dinner and was putting on weight. I suggested gently that perhaps she could consider not buying so much, and when it’s gone - it’s gone. The woman, who was no fool but was doing a pretty good job of convincing me she was, thought for a moment and then said “ you mean accidentally-on-purpose run out of it?” “That’s is exactly what I mean – a never ending supply of chocolate biscuits or ice cream can lead to never ending consumption”.
Sometimes the answer is so obvious it is steering us in the face - fill your pantry and fridge with what you are happy for them to eat. I don’t mean to be condescending by telling you this story but sometimes we need to be reminded as parents it’s ok not to be popular with our kids. Whilst there will be a bit of whingeing about running out– they’ll get over it! Make sure there is plenty of the food you want them to eat.
If you scan back through the posts to this blog that I started just before Christmas you will quickly understand my philosophy to inspiring teenagers to cook – in a nutshell I believe that teenagers that have great food preparation skills are at an advantage over those that don’t.
As a parent I want to give my child every advantage I possibly can in life – so quickly scan my five reasons why 2010 is the year to encourage them to become a successful cook and my five reasons why 2010 is the year they need to know more about food.
It’s my Turn to Cook is the result of over 20 years in nutrition and food education, frustration that eating habits of our children seem to be getting worse and a sickening realization that most traditional strategies of inspiring teenagers simply don’t work well enough or long enough to make a difference.
Thinking fun, great taste, no ‘don’t eat this’, no ‘don’t do this’, light-hearted messages and utilising technology have become my motto!
Just listening to teenagers talk makes you realize there is a disconnect between knowledge of food and their own health. As parent and nutrition educator I think we all need to be proactive and do something about it!
- Teenagers make food choices at LEAST 10 times a day … 10 bad food choices a day over 365 days makes a HUGE impact on their health!
- Their body is a bit like a car – if you want a car to perform at its best you need to put in high quality fuel. Similarly if you want your teen to perform at his or her best they also need to put in high quality fuel ( food). Does your teen know what ‘high quality food is’?
- Only they can take 100% responsibility for what goes in their mouth! Ignorance of good nutrition is no excuse.
- What they eat affects how they feel. Want them to feel good? You need to empower them.
- You can give your teenager a massive advantage – practical food skills interspersed with nutrition tips are valuable skills for life.
Special Recent Posts
The last School Holiday Program was a crammed with fun and learning as kids got more food savvy!