Children with Knives February 25 55/366


I had to re-visit this idea today. My original post, here at
created quite a stir at Baby Center. Someone created a thread discussing children using/learning to use knives and posted my blog as the reason for the discussion. Here at

I can’t help but laugh at the irrational responses from some of these ladies. I really recommend reading the rants. Get back to me about what you think! By the way, no one included me in the discussion, I found out that the thread existed because I was checking out my blog stats and came across a link to baby center.

Anyhow, I spent my day thinking about absurd fears, so I had to post this mock movie poster in response.

My and Abra’s response to the thread is posted below.


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 knife 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.

Abra’s response: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!

11 Responses

  1. i really like this post. kudos to you.

  2. Thanks velejandras! This one was laugh out loud at our house.

  3. my daughter just turned four and loves to help. i am so teaching her tomorrow!

  4. I was looking for something to support my belief that it is right to teach children from a young age how to handle knives correctly and most importantly to instil respect rather than fear.
    I have done this with both of my children who are two and four years old.
    The reaction I get from visiting friends who witness them preparing food with me is incredible – I actually had one friend try to snatch the knife from them which was in itself a dangerous act!!
    Thank-you for your post and I wondered if you knew of any links to studies of other cultures which raise their children in the same way?
    many thanks,
    Nikki Brotherton.

  5. Thanks for this post. I have been wondering whether I am doing the right thing, letting my 3 year old use a sharp knife to cut fruit and vegs with me. He did cut himself once but neither of us noticed it at first and it has not left him shy away from cutting. As your say, using the knife is the same as any other skill: teach them, guide them and they will feel confident to do it.

  6. I loved this! Thanks for demonstrating how capable kids can be. I taught my now 8yo to use a knife early, but I admit I got lazy with my next two kids. I’ll remedy that tomorrow. Cheers.

  7. Great Post! My 7 year old loves to cook and we bought her a knife of her very own about 2 years ago for Christmas. She has never cut herself or used her knife for anything other than cooking. I feel cooking instills self-confidence and pride in being able to serve something she made her self. Again great post.

  8. Thank you – my son is four years old and while he can slice bread and use a knive to cut up his meat, I’ve never let him near my larger knives so far. He’s going to help me cut up some veggies today – thank you for poking me into the right direction!


  9. Magnificent! Kids don’t magically become proficient when some arbitrary “old enough” is reached. So much of what I see suggests that kids are in grave danger from their own incompetance until 14. If we follow that we will be trying to teach kids everything there is to know about being an adult in the 3 short years when they are LEAST interested in listening to anything we have to say.

    We have to teach them. It is not a parent’s job to raise a safe child, it is a parent’s job to raise a self-sufficient adult.

    And anyway, it is MUCH safer for a small child to learn how to properly handle something that has the capacity to be dangerous so that they do not hurt themselves when they eventually do try on their own.

  10. Hear! Hear! Yo Go Mamas!!! My daughter has also been taught the proper way to hold and use knives, and frequently helps my husband and I in the kitchen. She loves to cook and bake with us, she knows how to measure, cut, stir, etc.

    I don’t let her handle the hot pots & pans yet – but she will earn that too – and soon. And she knows what things need pot holders, or oven gloves, and will get them for me. I think it is a wonderful art to cultivate – the love of cooking and baking, and a vital survival skill.

  11. I let my kids cut their birthday cakes starting when they were 2 years old. You’re right: I’m there to help them and guide them and they have NEVER cut themselves. My neighbor almost had a heart attack when I handed my daughter a knife on her 3rd birthday, but she cut the cake up beautifully. Ok, not beautifully, but without injury.

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