Cyan gets a cooking lesson. February 11 41/366


Cyan, who’s four, has been cooking with me for about a year now. He’s learned quite a bit, and he doesn’t shy away from trying any sort of food. He can handle a knife, and isn’t afraid of a hot pan. He can make his own sandwiches and salads, and has no issues with washing his own dishes. He’s very self sufficient.

No, I am not afraid that he will hurt himself. He is quite capable of keeping himself safe, as are all children with any amount of self esteem and self confidence.  He cut nearly all of the vegetables in this soup, and didn’t cut himself with a knife. He cut the meat, the potatoes and the celery, leaving for me the carrots and onions, only because carrots are really tough to cut and onions make his eyes tear.

He was so proud while he was cutting. He kept saying, “this is very good for me” and “I’m learning to make my own food” and finally, “I’m growing up to be a man.” It’s good to teach children. It makes them feel good.

7 Responses

  1. This is so nice to see and hear. The other day I was finally able to let go of my germ phobia a bit and let my son (also 4) handle raw eggs and raw chicken. I don’t know about the knives though. I let him cut banana with a butter knife but I nearly sliced my own finger off with a bread knife so I imagine perhaps it’s not him I’m not confident in as a student, but my own failings as a teacher hehe. Best of luck with the upcoming birth 🙂 (found you via the pdx pool on flickr btw)

  2. You know, I suppose I ought to mention that I have a Culinary degree. I’m one of those people who can cut things super fast and not get cut. I use a technique keeps the food holding hand in a claw, with all fingers as well as thumb tucked into the palm of your hand, while the knife rests against the knuckle of the claw hand. As you guide your food toward the knife without ever even allowing your fingertips to have any access to the blade. For a Practicing and mastering this technique will keep your fingers safe, teaching this tool to a child can only better their ability to be independent and capable of preparing meals for themselves.

    Come to think of it, I have a video posted in myspace. Here!

    DinnerAdd to My Profile | More Videos

  3. aha! The ace in the hole… the culinary degree. thanks for the link – I’ll have to check it later. I should mention at least that it was home baked bread with a nice firm crust that I was trying to cut into. I have used the claw method but I think I need to hone it. Thanks for commenting back 🙂 Oh and I even fell asleep to Jonathan strange & Mr Norrell while listening to it on tape when I wasn’t pregnant. It’s anything but succinct, that one. I’m in the Love part of the Eat Pray Love book now. That one I’ve enjoyed… enough to stay up past bed-time 🙂

  4. Yes, children should be allowed to use knives. Humans have been allowed to use sharp objects since the beginning of our evolution. Human children have amazing coordination if you believe in them and do not instill FEAR at a young age.

    It sounds to me like most of the mother’s that have posted here have a serious fear of knives themselves. It always amazes me how little faith we have in our children’s abilities. The more you tell your child that THEY CAN’T or that YOU’LL CUT YOURSELF the more likely they are to believe you. Children live up to your expectations. If you tell a child something they’ll believe it. Instill doubt, fear and lack of ability at a young age and your child will believe you. Your child will always be afraid, just as you’ve always been afraid.

    The child in the picture on Flickr is my son Cyan. He’s been using a knife since he was three years old. He was of course started on a small pearing knife and then moved to a larger chef knife. He has NEVER cut himself. He has always been supervised by a responsible adult and been carefully trained how to use a knife properly. This is a life skill that EVERYONE should know. No one has ever advocated that you should give a young child a knife with no training and walk away. NEVER! Seriously.

    Humans have a strong self preservation instinct if you don’t over-ride it with your own deep seeded fears. I assure you that your child is NOT suicidal, they don’t want to hurt themselves. It just doesn’t make any sense. If human children were suicidal we would have died off a long time ago.

    Look at any tribe in the world and you’ll see kids that are barely walking using knifes, bows and arrows, climbing trees, swimming in rivers etc. They have fewer accidents than kids in America because everyone around them has faith in their ability to preserve themselves.

    Be afraid and your child will be afraid!

  5. Abra is responding to a thread at :

    http://boards.parentcenter.babycenter.com/n/pfx/forum.aspx?tsn=1&nav=messages&webtag=bcus14426&tid=3482 that was in response to this blog.

    Please, go and read the discussion. I think it’s fascinating!

    My response to this thread was posted today.

  6. Abra is responding to a thread at :

    http://boards.parentcenter.babycenter.com/n/pfx/forum.aspx?tsn=1&nav=messages&webtag=bcus14426&tid=3482 that was in response to this blog.

    Please, go and read the discussion. I think it’s fascinating!

    My response to this thread was posted today.
    Hi. I’m Camille, the woman who posted the blog about teaching my friend’s four year old how to cut with knives. I would have liked it if the referrer had taken the time to include me in on this conversation by leaving a comment on the post informing me of it’s existence. I fear that my response is now delayed, but I can’t help but respond, even if untimely.

    I have taught Cyan how to properly hold a knife and to cut vegetables for a year now. I am not afraid of knifes or meat; I refuse to instill fear of meat or knives into my own child (unborn) or other people’s children. Many of the responses to my blog, and the question posed, seem utterly irrational! Please, let me explain.

    The size of the he is using is the correct knife for the job and a reasonable size for his hands. The chefs knife is only 8″ long and weighs virtually nothing. He can control this size knife as well as a 6″ and a pairing knife with ease. He is very comfortable with these knives.

    Teaching him to use a knife is not crazy, as Krista responded, crazy is telling him that he’s going to cut his fingers off or injure himself! Children will self preserve, not self destruct. Franzose21 said that her son even said, “mommy, I am serious when I say I won’t cut myself”!” He was speaking for almost all children!

    Your children are not as inept as you are trying to make them believe that they are. I think that that is sad. Sure, some children are better coordinated at a later age; one oughtn’t try to make a child, who is incapable of concentrating seriously on a task, cut up vegetables with a knife. However, by four your child is coordinated enough to handle a marker, a pen and a knife, if you show them proper technique. Furthermore you must stay with them, guide them, and be calm! Some of the responders sound rather uptight about even touching meat, rather than properly using a knife.

    As I said before, I am a chef. I handle meat, knifes, fire, fry oil, hot ovens and heavy objects for a living. Teaching a child to use a knife is easy! However, teaching an adult to overcome irrational fears is very difficult. I recommend that all of you take a knife handling lesson from someone! There is a proper way of holding and using knives, as well as proper tasks for different knives!

    Cyan knows what to cut and has never, I repeat, NEVER cut himself with a knife. He has never used a knife for anything other than cutting and if you ask him what knives are for he will tell you that they are for cutting vegetables and meat and cream cheese. We do not make him believe that he is incapable of doing this task, and so he believes that he can do it, and lo, he can.

  7. […] had to re-visit this idea today. My original post, here at https://camillet.wordpress.com/2008/02/11/cyan-gets-a-cooking-lesson-february-11-41366/ created quite a stir at Baby Center. Someone created a thread discussing children using/learning to […]

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