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Teaching your children how to cook is an invaluable piece of knowledge to impart. These skills will stay with them and be used and reused throughout their life. As a result, it’s important to make sure your child knows how to be safe when cooking food in order to minimise the risk of injury with cooking utensils, burns and, of course, food poisoning.

Young children are, for lack of a better word, sponges; meaning they soak up new information very quickly, providing that information is given to them in a way they understand and keeps their attention. The best way to achieve this is to involve your child with the process as often as you can and make it a fun experience for them. Some of the following suggestions might come across as simple common sense, but often when things become second nature they can be overlooked. So, what are the main things to teach your child when it comes to kitchen safety?

  • Getting Ready to Cook: Basic hygiene before cooking is very important. Make it a game for your child. Have a colourful list and see how many sessions it takes them to remember it. Things to include might be: shoes on (no bare feet as this is a risk if hot substances are spilled), tie hair up (if applicable), wash hands in soapy water, check and lay out ingredients, utensils and method for recipe.

  • Germs spreading: This is something that you might need to constantly remind your child about but there are basic and simple enough rules that they should be able to pick up over time; don’t keep cooked and uncooked foods together, wash utensils after using, keep your chopping boards separate (often sold as sets with different colours to make this easier for consumers, so you could try another little game e.g. we need to chop some vegetables, so which colour chopping board do we need?)

  • The ‘Nevers’: As a rule there are things that you shouldn’t do to keep the kitchen a safe environment. For instance, you should never: lick the inside of a mixture when cooking, pick up something from the oven without a mitt, keep handles from pots overlapping the work surface edge (to lower the risk of them being knocked off), run with knives.

Positive reinforcement: Throughout the process of teaching your child to cook you need to keep them interested, motivated and happy. Using positive reinforcement is a good way of doing this. Simply put, keep the kitchen a happy environment and this will lead to a positive experience in your child and will make them look forward to cooking with you as opposed to seeing it as a chore.

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