Monday, November 16, 2015

Creating Future Foodies

 Go Ahead and Give Your Toddler a Kitchen Knife*

A child in the Amazon rain forest "was playing with a sharp kitchen knife, about 9 inches in length. He was swinging the knife blade around him, often coming close to his eyes, his chest, his arm and other body parts. When he dropped the knife, his mother—talking to someone else—reached backward nonchalantly without interrupting her conversation, picked up the knife and handed it back to the toddler."

Gupta explains that there's an evolutionary argument for allowing children to learn how to work with dangerous food implements. David Lancy, an Anthropologist and author of The Anthropology of Childhood, says childhood used to be filled with tools, such as hammers, mortars, pestles and machetes to break open foods like coconuts. 

Lancy says that this laissez-faire approach to parenting has several explanations, among them parents' unwillingness to impose their will on another, even a child, and the belief that children must learn through exploration, regardless of the risks.

*NPR's Go Ahead and Give Your Toddler a Kitchen Knife, by Sujata Gupta

The joy of cooking with toddlers
You're my kind of guy!

Allowing Time for Little Helpers

Well, there's no doubt that it would be easier to plop your kids in front of the television to watch Landfill Harmonic, a documentary on how poor urban children in Paraguay play musical intruments made of junk from their landfill, while you relax in the kitchen. That's okay. But, children love to help their parents, especially during the incredibly formative toddler years (which I'll classify as 1 - 4 years of age), so find the time to let them trash your kitchen! Here are the guidelines:
  • Adults should not be in a hurry 
  • Relax about cleanliness and perfection
  • Skip recipes, at first
  • Toddlers have a natural urge to want to help—nurture and develop this instinct with gusto
  • You really should watch these five short (2 - 3 minutes each) videos that will blow you away with their cuteness (no cats–sorry) score 

Please Watch One of these Five Videos (get hooked!)—be sure to click the 'start' arrow

Grocery Cart Shopping - A child-minder and two girls (3.10 and 1.6 yrs) at the grocery store. Watch the girls expression of satisfaction as she helps with the bread and finally the basket!

Helping in the Kitchen - A mother and her son (3.9 yrs) and daughter (1.6 yrs) prepare lunch. The boy peels carrots while the mom helps her daughter cut a cucumber. Watch how the little 1 1/2 year old then arranges the slices on a plate!

Setting the Table - A group of three year old children are preparing the table for lunch at a childcare home. Watch the teamwork and seriousness of the task!

Baking a Cake - A mother, while holding her 9 month old son, helps her 4 year old son prepare his birthday cake. The third (6.3 yrs) brother helps out with interest. Watch the nine month old's attentiveness!


Cutting a Banana - At a Montessori school, a 20 month old girl peels and cuts her banana snack all by herself. Watch her feet kick with joy!

Parenting, empowerment, self-confidence
Let me mix the salad, then I'll eat it–see!

Recruit your child's help

  • At the grocery store, ask your child to help select fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods 
  • Don't buy anything that you don't want your child to eat
  • At home, encourage your child to help you rinse veggies, stir batter or set the table
  • Ask what flavors they like and help them combine those in a single dish
  • Under supervision, let them do the measuring, chopping and mixing

Make the process less rough on you

  • Show your children where all important items are kept in the kitchen

  • Adjust the height of work surfaces

  • Teach about cleanliness 

  • Let older kids help younger ones

  • Start with basic dishes—a salad or a fruit dip—that don’t require recipes

teamwork, parenting
Is there pizza in the freezer, mom?

Conclusion: Inspire self-confidence

Giving your toddler a kitchen knife may be beyond your trust level, but find what you can let them do with conviction. Your children look to you for encouragement, so smile, roll up your sleeves, put on your aprons, and get cooking!

Here are previous Papa Green Bean posts with related slicing, dicing, chopping and mixing stuff:

Light-Hearted Fathering— under "Empathy"

Creative Pumpkin Seed Recipes—ALL!

Open Kitchen Equals Healthy Minded Children—ALL!

Take Time To Be—under "Take Time to Trust"

Hold Me Like You'll Never Let Me Go—under "personal insights"

With a glass of wine... "Cheers",

Papa Green Bean

Dishes were not part of the deal, dad!