Creating confident kids — in and out of the kitchen

creating confident cooks
Written by Kathreen Ricketson of Whip Up and the kids’ e-magazine Action Pack.

A note from Jamie: When Kathreen and I discussed this guest post last summer, neither of us could have had any idea that less than a year later she and her husband would both be killed in a tragic accident.
I wanted to republish Kathreen’s words here today because I love the way her love for her children–her deepest legacy–comes across and because I’d love to encourage you to contribute a donation for her daughter Otilija and son Orlando to support them in their future and as they grieve this unimaginable loss.

One of my goals – or maybe I should say – my most important goal as a parent is to give my kids the confidence in themselves to know that they can do anything, they can achieve anything if they work at it and want it enough. This confidence in themselves doesn’t start once they leave home and have to fend for themselves, it starts right from the beginning by giving them your trust and by giving them responsibilities.

You can do this in lots of different ways: being responsible for certain chores, trusting them with important tasks, and letting them get in the kitchen to experiment, make a mess and to cook.

These things all start off small and should be age appropriate, as a parent you can gently let them have more and more responsibilities and task as they grow, building up that trust so that when they do eventually leave home to go out into the big wide world, you’ll know that you have given them all the skills they need to do well.

I have two kiddos–Otilija is now 12 and Orlando is almost 10. As a creative person who has always given my kids free reign in the kitchen and the craft supplies I am very happy to say that my kids are now competent and confident in the kitchen and elsewhere in life.

They can plan a menu and cook dinner for the family, they can research a cake recipe, check if we have the ingredients and make it from scratch, they can get up early and cook pancakes or fried eggs for breakfast – and they sometimes even clean up the mess afterwards. I am very proud of how confident they are in the kitchen and I know that these skills will transfer to other parts of their lives.

Believing that your kids are capable, competent, creative, responsible, resourceful and resilient is the way toward building a confident child and cooking is the perfect teaching tool towards this goal.

Here’s how:

Your kids are capable.

Give them opportunities to make decisions, plan activities and make choices. In the kitchen let them plan the menu, research recipes, write the shopping list, etc.

Your kids are competent.

Teach your kids how to use tools and learn skills with respectful supervision.

In the kitchen make sure your kids know how to use and handle sharp knives, electric gadgets, the oven and the stove – once you realize that your kids are competent with these essentials you’ll be more comfortable letting them do more and they’ll grow in confidence.

Your kids are creative.

Creativity stems from freedom of thought and experimentation. In the kitchen let your children experiment with flavours, test out their theories, and explore new ideas – why not encourage them to adjust tried and true recipes – a basic cookie dough is a great starting off point.

Your kids are responsible.

Responsibility comes from trust and self-discipline. You can help your child to be responsible for their actions and decisions. In the kitchen the natural consequence of cooking is making a mess – make sure they know that they have to clean up after themselves.

Your kids are resourceful.

Realizing that your children have personal resources and experiences that they can contribute to the group/family will give them confidence in being able to express their ideas and think up interesting solutions to problems.

In the kitchen if the cream is overbeaten – turn it into butter, if the gravy is lumpy – use a sieve, if there is no buttermilk – use yogurt instead. Problem solving is an essential skill toward a confident person.

Your kids are resilient.

Some children need longer than others to think situations through, don’t rush – give them time to work through difficult or tricky problems. Let them go at their own pace surrounded by a supportive environment.

In the kitchen your child, once at the reading stage, can probably make a simple brownie or cookie recipe all by themselves — they may get frustrated and stressed and worried – but by giving them that space and time and support they’ll be able to achieve great things.

By keeping these points in mind, you’ll be able to create confident children, great cooks and creative people.

How have you enabled your kids to be confident in the kitchen?

About Kathreen

Kathreen is the founder of the craft website WhipUp.net and the kids e-magazine Action-Pack.com .

Comments

  1. My kids are still quite young, 4 and almost 2, so they don’t do a whole lot in the kitchen. The things that they most enjoy are mixing, and kneading bread dough. I also try to include them in the dinner making process, deciding what which vegetables we will eat, whether we want a pasta or a bean dish. They enjoy being involved, and anything that I let them help with is always such fun for them. I sometimes catch myself saying “no” too often, mainly when I am in a rush. Instead, I am trying to say “yes” and allowing a little extra clean up time. When I allow the kids to help me, they are enthusiastic, and love every minute of it. I think that is what gives them confidence, my letting them do something on their own.
    Heather’s latest post: yarn along

  2. This comment isn’t so much about cooking as the Action-Pack magazine mentioned.
    I bought all the past issues of Action-Pack, printed off the pages, put them in page protectors and into a large 3-ring binder. It was a fun project that took a small investment of time and money.
    I can’t say enough about Action-Pack. I LOVE it! It meshes so well with the ideas I have for childhood and the things I like my kids to do. I love the line, the magazine for kids who like to DO stuff. (hope I got that right :))
    My daughter is 10 and my sons are 7. It is mostly my daughter who looks through the large Action-Pack binder (and often!), but she always gets her brothers excited about the projects as well. And they don’t just think about the projects, they DO them!
    I can’t recommend this magazine enough. If they keep it ad-free, they have a long term customer in me!

    • Thanks Lori for you support and enthusiasm. We are certainly have no plans to include ads in the magazine as this is something we also feel very strongly about.

  3. I have encouraged my kids to help me in the kitchen. My girls are 8 and 9 and they enjoy putting together a meal. I have made my eldest daughter a homemaking book where she can learn to make a menu, shopping list, or recipes, among other things.
    Paula’s latest post: A Homemaking Journal for your Daughter

  4. My daughter is only two but she already likes to help pour and stir. I’m looking forward to implementing these ideas in the future.
    Steph’s latest post: A Craft Epiphany

  5. This is such a great post Kathleen. I need to take some of your advice. My kids help in the kitchen but rarely do they take charge, perhaps I’ve taken charge too much??
    renee @ FIMBY’s latest post: A Walk to The River

  6. This is awesome, Kathreen. I look forward to implementing some of these ideas with my babe when she’s bigger (she’s only nine months). Might I ask where your kids go to school? It sounds like a wonderful place. I’ve worked in independent schools for the past ten years, so I know how special it is when you find the right one for your little one(s).

    • Hi Emily
      I live in Canberra Australia and they attend a ‘slow’ education style small school inspired by education philosophies such as Reggio Emilia, Steiner and Montessori. There are no desks – instead there are ‘discovery’ tables set up and ‘learning journeys’ that the kids work on – this is from kinder right through to high school – and ensures the kids are able to manage their time and work on subjects of interest to them. There is no homework, there are a lot of outdoor classes, hiking and camping etc. There are very small classes – 1:10 teacher to student ratio, and the teachers are very approachable. Schools like this are met with a lot of dubiousness around here – they don’t get the same amount of government funding and support as traditional learning environments but the students do extremely well in the national tests. In any case we are happy there simply because the kids love going to school each day.

      xx
      Kathreen
      kathreen’s latest post: Self Publishing Q & A with Ann Shayne

  7. Thanks Kathreen, I loved this post and found it so true in my own family. I hope you don’t mind that I referenced it on my own blog. Thank you for an inspiring place to visit.
    Warmest wishes, Lydia.

    http://judahsblanket.wordpress.com/2012/07/28/and-you-know-ive-tried-alot-of-brownies/
    Lydia’s latest post: And You Know I’ve Tried A LOT of Brownies

  8. What a wonderful post! My girls are almost 4 and 1, so we are just getting started and I’m so glad to read this now! I am very determined to raise confident girls, especially since it seems that self-confidence is more difficult with every generation.
    Happy to be your newest follower via Craft Garden Mama sharing this post on Facebook. Check out my blog and follow me back if you like.
    Have a great week!
    Julie @ The Path to an Organized Tomorrow’s latest post: Olympics Opening Ceremonies Meal: Low-Carb Shepherd’s Pie

  9. What a great post! I really love the way you put things in a perspective. I tend to like to be in control of my kitchen and think this would be a great lesson for both me and my girls. =)

  10. This post is wonderful and sooo true. I have seen my Princess grow in confidence as she has learned to do homemaking tasks like cooking and cleaning. She’s VERY good in the kitchen too-that’s a plus. lol It’s great to watch her eyes light up when she watches us eating food she has prepared for us.

    blessings,
    Shan
    http://www.The-How-to-Guru.com
    Shan Walker’s latest post: How To Organize Your Walk In Closet {Part 2}

  11. My sons 12 and 13 don’t love(or even like) to cook but its part of our “schooling” (home ec) so they have to. My 12 year old daughter does. I have a strong belief that all of our kids, boys and girls should learn cooking, baking, sewing, simple home repairs , money management and how to keep a house in working order by the time they graduate high school. This is the 2nd year home ec. is a formal part of our school( grades 7 and 8).

  12. I don’t always catch posts or keep current online, but I remember this post from the first time around. I’ve always kept my son in the kitchen and in the garden and so enjoyed reading this.

    What a lovely post and what a lovely relationship the parents had with their children. Praying for these beautiful children and the loving family who has them now. Wishing them life’s greatest blessings, but maybe they already had that ~ loving parents who gave the children their all as well as a solid foundation to build their lives upon. May Kathreen and Robert rest in peace and may their children have peace despite all the pain they must now feel in their parents’ absence.

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