There is no shortage of research today documenting the health benefits of teaching kids about cooking—from understanding the origins of ingredients to learning S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics). These things combined give our kids a leg up in making better food choices throughout life, but what often goes unrecognized is the role that cooking with kids can play in the development of their emotional intelligence.
According to Lisa Firestone, Ph.D., “When you teach kids emotional intelligence, how to recognize their feelings, understand where they come from and learn how to deal with them, you teach them the most essential skills for their success in life.” Research has shown that emotional intelligence, or EQ, “predicts over 54% of the variation in success (relationships, effectiveness, health, quality of life).” Additional data concludes that “young people with high EQ earn higher grades, stay in school, and make healthier choices.”
Cooking with kids and gathering around a table provides the kind of connection that technology will never deliver. Face-to-face collaboration and listening are skills needed for the future, and cooking is fertile ground for teaching kids patience, creativity, resilience, independence, compassion, and confidence. It provides a venue to experience family heirloom recipes and to foster empathy. What’s more, we can connect in the present, knowing with confidence that these moments will impact us for generations to come.