Don’t you just love the phrase “I want to do it!”? Sometimes that phrase can be wonderful to hear, especially when kids are learning something new and they’re so excited about it. Other times… Not so much. Like when your child wants to help cook dinner, but you’re short on time to get it ready and you know you can do it faster and more efficiently but your child starts to say that phrase over and over and over again. Then there’s a choice for every parent; you can let your child help you cook or tell them not tonight. Each choice teaches something and each situation is different, but each situation can still result in fun parent/child time.

With the first choice of letting the child help prepare dinner parents to have your kids assist you by telling them how to stir, how to scrub or even having your child help you hold the knife while cutting up veggies or fruit. Talking is important no matter what, especially positive phrases like “well done” and “That was great!”. Children love to learn and learning with their parents is always a special treat, even when it means dinner will be a little later than expected.

If you say “Not now”, your child will still want to help and continue to vocalize the matter. To help distract your child give them a bowl with some of the ingredients in it and have them make their own ‘meal’ while you make the bigger one. If you can’t spare ingredients at that moment, perhaps you can still give them some dishes to play with so that your child knows that you still care and want to have them close (Kids are very sensitive and have a strong desire to be helpful and close). If your child is older and you just need them to back out of the kitchen you can always tell them that they can help make cookies after dinner (or even help plan dinner the next night). Use positive distractions to help your kids know that you care for them, even when you’re really, really busy.

Kids love to color, play with toys, make friends, run, walk, and make weird noises with their mouths and hands. All of these things they had to learn to do by themselves with loving instruction and guidance from an older person. Blowing bubbles, using scissors and even learning to write are things that parents want to help their kids learn, sometimes the best way to help them learn new things is to take a moment and step away and just let them do it by themselves.If your child is struggling with learning new skills and they keep getting frustrated, ask if they would like your help, some kids will say yes, others will surprise you and say no. Make the memories happy and helpful and remember it’s the process that matters most when children are learning new skills, not the results.

-Naomi James (Bravo Employee)