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Looking for a brilliant way to enjoy quality time with your children? Cooking is the answer. You spend a good chunk of your day in the kitchen anyway, so why not share it with your kids? The kitchen is the perfect place to bring the whole family together, equip your children with a key life skill and have fun-but only if you approach it the right way.
According to a recent survey by IKEA, many kids hate helping out in the kitchen. The reason is simple: although two out of three parents believe it is important to involve their children in the kitchen, safety concerns and worries about having to clean up a huge mess prompt adults to stifle their kids' culinary creativity.
Children are often given boring chores (such as clearing plates) rather than exciting jobs (such as helping cook dinner) and are usually lumbered with too many rules. What should be fun family time becomes a battleground peppered with 'Don't do this!' or 'Be careful with that!' The end result is that "sometimes, it sucks to be a kid in the kitchen," as a boy reveals in IKEA's latest Cooking with Parents video manifesto (opens in new tab).
To bring the fun back into the kitchen, IKEA advises that you should only follow five rules for cooking with children:
Don't correct them all the time, because it takes the joy out of cooking together. Let them experiment with ingredients, try new flavour combinations and even deviate from the recipe - after all, this is how great chefs develop their ideas.
Don't get mad if they fail. Having to 'get it right or else' is a sure-fire way to put your children off the kitchen for life. Instead, let them make mistakes-because that's how they'll learn.
Don't rush them. Developing a new skill takes time. Let them take however long they need to make a new dish, peel a potato or sauté an onion-and savour every minute you spend together.
Don't tell them off for being messy. For a child, mess is fun and liberating (remember mud pies?) and they won't be able to enjoy cooking if they are constantly worried about not spilling flour or clearing up the pots.
Accept that it's OK if they get tired or lose interest halfway through. Cooking together should always be pleasurable, never a chore. When their attention starts to wane, let them wander off to do something else - they will be keener to join you in the kitchen again another day.
And if you are looking for some fabulous recipes that will get your kids going, IKEA has collected several for you. From an easy-peasy peanut butter sandwich to tasty homemade pasta and delicious ice cream, there's plenty of great food to make and enjoy together.
For more recipes and details visit the IKEA website (opens in new tab)
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