"Mommy, what are you cooking? Mommy, what's for dinner? Can I help? Please! I want to help! I want to help! I want to..." (Plea muffled by full-scale fake sobs and writhing on the kitchen floor).
Does that scenario seem familiar? That's what dinnertime in our home used to sound like. My first solution? Like so many other unsuspecting yet well-meaning moms, I gave my four-year-old son pots and pans, with a few uncooked beans in each, and a big wooden spoon. The result? A four-year-old banging pots and pans with a big wooden spoon while I slide across the floor on uncooked beans.
That was the old days. Now when it's time to start dinner, I make sure that I plan at least one easy dish that my son can make on his own. I lay out all of the ingredients, chopped and peeled if necessary, along with the appropriate bowls and utensils onto the table. My son feels better knowing that he makes a real contribution to our meal, instead of just background noise. I love the extra time it gives us to discuss how our days went, and to plan tomorrow's entrees.
Here are a few of his favorite treats to try at home with your children:
Deborah Shelton is the author of The Five Minute Parent: Fun & Fast Activities for You and Your Little Ones
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