You were successful at getting your two-year-old to eat vegetables by playing airplane, but now your exquisite fourteen-year-old is sticking their nose up to your delicious dinners. What do you do? Is airplane still the answer? Probably not, but worth a try just to see their face.
A good place to start is by offering him/her what teenagers long for (aside from confirmation that they DO know everything), independence and decision-making capability; and the kitchen is a great place for this! Positive experiences in the kitchen can ignite a healthy love for good food. Your teen is now at an age where you can take a step back and let them have run of the appliances for a couple of hours... I hear laughing...okay if this isn't your child, then supervise only when you need to and be available to help just in case they need you. Otherwise, while they are working on their future signature dish, you get to curl up in the next room with a cup of tea, a good book and a fire extinguisher.
How to get started
Before you plop your chef into the kitchen and run, help them to get organized.
First, do they want to do this with a friend, sibling, or on their own? A friend might make the experience a lot more fun and they can do the cooking and grocery shopping together.
Second, they are going to need recipes. Encourage them to go online and look up healthy recipes by Jamie Oliver, as an example, where they can pick a recipe or two so they can plan an evening meal for the family.
Third, they will need groceries and a list. How and when will this be done?
Fourth, pick a day for this most awesome event.
Fifth, discuss post-cooking clean up. When it’s time to clean up, you will probably find that their interest in independence has taken a backseat to Instagram. Suggest they do some cleaning as they go along.
Most of all, try to be patient with your delightful teen. This is meant to be a fun baby step that can lead them toward the bigger picture, which is, having fun with real food. Encourage an interest in healthy meals on a regular basis because teenagers who love and crave highly nutritious foods are not created overnight. And no matter how their masterpiece tastes, they will have a better idea of what you do everyday for them, and hopefully, it will inspire them to search for, cook and appreciate healthy meals.