The knives and the stove and oven make me a little nervous, but I also just struggle with delegating even safe tasks. How do I get my kids more involved without it becoming stressful for all of us? The more time your kids spend in the kitchen, the more comfortable they’ll be there, and the more they’ll understand what makes something taste delicious. They’ll also develop valuable knowledge about healthy ingredients and good food choices­—not to mention pride and confidence in their skills!

  1. Start with any simple meal that doesn’t require careful measuring or baking. Tacos fill the bill: Grating cheese, tearing lettuce, and plucking herbs are all kid-friendly activities. Also fun for young helpers is spreading, layering, and sprinkling the ingredients to assemble lasagna.

  2. With younger children, do all the necessary knifework before they even enter the kitchen, so their cooking experience is as interactive as possible and there’s no need for them to stop, wait, and get bored while you chop.

  3. While you’re teaching, give your kids room to experiment: They can be creative with seasonings, make meatballs huge or nibble-size, and try different pasta shapes. Encourage them to rely on their senses and their hands, the most effective tools they have in cooking.

  4. Remember to teach children good cook’s habits, like cleaning up as you go. I keep small, damp towels handy to deal with both normal messes and unexpected ones. And whenever your child cooks, don’t forget to praise him for a job well done!