Last week I talked about teaching your children social skills. Please keep in mind that it’s a process for them to learn these values and skills so don’t judge them because they haven’t acquired them yet. The actual test of whether they have learned these skills without your reminders will be when they are over 25 and you observe how they act.
As a reminder, some social skills to teach your kids are: table manners, “please” and “thank you”, being thoughtful of other people’s things and feelings, and offering their seat to older people.
Another important Independent Living Skill to gradually teach your children is Meal Preparation. I’ll also include the idea of teaching how to prepare a nutritious meal in this category as well. Be mindful to not get upset when your kids eat a very narrow diet. There is an excellent chance that this tendency of the young will change as they mature.
I speak from experience since my daughter is now 33. I marvel at the Independent Living Skills she demonstrates as I visit her in her own home. I have even said to her, “you’re eating vegetables now” and she looks at me saying, “I’ve been eating them for a while, Mom, ” with slight indignation.
My child would only eat raw broccoli or carrots with ranch dressing when she was young. She was sensitive to the texture of foods which made it impossible for her to try new foods. Some parents I talk to get very upset about their own child being a “picky eater” and want to know how to get their kids to change.
I couldn’t force her to change. What I did do was eat the vegetables I wanted to eat at the same time she was eating hers. I had confidence that her taste buds would mature, and they have. One way to avoid your kids eating what you don’t want them to eat is to not have those items in the house.
Remember that you set your personal boundaries. Don’t let your kids push you into doing something that is against your values. Your job is to be their guide, not to please them by doing what they want. My daughter loved Carl’s Junior so I made it a special event food, not a standard dinner whenever she wanted it. This was my value and boundary.
One skill I taught Jen early on was how to shop for food. When we were in the grocery store, she had a list of things to get. This not only taught her how to read labels, etc. taking on this responsibility made her feel good about herself because she was doing an important job for the family.
I repeat, when you have kids contribute to the family, they feel valuable and lovable. A key element in building their self-esteem. That is why it’s crucial that you don’t allow their complaining to keep you from expecting them to help out.
Here is the list of Meal Preparation Skills you can teach your kids:
- Cooks a simple meal for themselves
- Cleans up after a meal
- Stores leftovers appropriately
- Shops for food
- Plans a meal everyone will eat
I have to share a funny story about my daughter storing leftovers. My husband and I always label everything we put into the refrigerator by writing the item’s name on masking tape and putting the tape on the container. This system increases the likelihood that leftovers will be eaten. My daughter was here for a small gathering for Bill’s birthday and she was in the kitchen cleaning up while we were enjoying our guests. Later in the evening, I looked in the fridge and every container was labeled! She doesn’t do this at home, but she knew my system and that it would please me. It sure did!
If you aren’t teaching meal preparation skills now, start right away. You could ask them which skill they want to learn first. Once they learn a skill, they continue it and add on more. Watch out for them saying, “I know how to put food away so I don’t have to do it anymore.” Yes, they do. Kids are clever.
Copyright 2022 – Cynthia Klein, Family Happiness Expert – Coach, speaker, and author of Ally Parenting: A Non-Adversarial Approach to Transform Conflict Into Cooperation. Learn more about Cynthia’s services and contact her at her website, https://bridges2understanding.com. Contact Cynthia for permission to reproduce any information from this article.