Invite your child to be in charge of her own breakfast. If you make the right foods and tools available, she will gain practice at becoming self-sufficient. Here's how to help:
- Build independence skills. A 3 year old can carry things to and from the table; those who are 4 can learn to pour; at 5 let her try slicing a banana or spreading jam on toast. Heap on the praise as kids master new skills.
- Stock healthy foods such as fruits, low-sugar cereals, whole-grain breads or toaster waffles, breakfast burritos, juice, and low-fat cheeses and milk. Young children need the energy breakfast food supplies to kick-off the school day.
- Supply child-friendly kitchenware that is unbreakable, spill-proof, and easy to handle.
- Simple pouring. Help your child master the art of pouring by transferring liquids and solids to unbreakable pitchers or containers that have easy-to-grasp handles.
- Plastic basics. Store unbreakable bowls, plates, cups, and silverware in a place where your child can reach them herself. Encourage her to set her own place at breakfast.
- Fun tableware. Whimsical items — a colorful egg cup, a cup with a wacky straw — encourage kids to take charge of their meals. Look for new items and add to your collection of "kidware."
- Easy endings. Build on school clean-up skills — kids can clear their dishes and sponge the table. Add to the appeal with small-size tools, colorful cloths, and fun-shaped sponges.