With Halloween in the rearview holiday mirror, we are all turning our focus to the next big holiday – Thanksgiving! And what a wonderful holiday it is. With a focus on spending quality time with family, preparing and eating delicious food, and relaxing afterwards with a warm slice of pumpkin pie, it’s hard to find fault in the holiday about giving thanks and sharing with others. Our communal tables become full of smiling faces and sleepy, nodding heads after the meal. It’s a great time to give thanks for our children and parents and to come together over a meal that spans the day (if you count sneaking in tasty bites!). In addition to all of these wonderful aspects of Thanksgiving, it’s also a great opportunity to cook with your children.
Benefits of Cooking with Kids
Why would you want to cook with your kids? Well, it’s a great chance to talk to your kids about family history. When you pull out that weathered recipe card of your grandmother’s pumpkin pie, talk to your child about the grandmother. Share the family stories and your own memories of what Thanksgiving was like for you growing up. This can be particularly beneficial for adoptive parents whose child is growing up and becoming curious about family members, family history, and their own personal story. Use the recipes as a way to talk about traditions and create a chance for your child to ask questions and show you what they are curious about.
Cooking isn’t just for stories, either. It’s a great parenting help, too! When kids help prepare food, they are more likely to eat it later on. So if you have a picky eater, make sure and have them snap green beans, peel potatoes, or sprinkle the brown sugar on the sweet potatoes. Any involvement will increase their interest and make them want to taste it later on. So while you bond over stories, you encourage your child to take an interest in their food and even learn about measuring, sharing, counting, and science, too!
Cooking with Young Children
There’s something for a child of any age, too, so long as you do a little planning. Preschoolers learn a lot from watching, so let them see how dishes come together and if they can feel, taste, and even play with some food parts go ahead and let them enjoy. Down the road, this may pay off when you try to introduce new foods to your child.
Cooking with Teens
We all know the occasional sullenness of teenagers who would rather be on their phones than participate in the family meal. If you are facing such a teen this year, consider letting them pick a favorite dish to have (even if it’s not a traditional Thanksgiving dish) so long as they do some of the prep work. That will help keep them in the kitchen and talking.
This year, enjoy some family bonding over Thanksgiving cooking and hopefully this will become a new tradition to be celebrated each year.