(This article was featured in Elephant Journal.  Click here to read the published version!)

If you think about it baking takes a lot of patience.  You measure, poor, mix and then settle in and wait for your masterpiece to come out of the oven.  It is a true test in delayed gratification, especially if you can keep from sneaking tastes until it’s done.  This is why baking is a perfect undercover way to teach kids about patience.

In the New York Times bestseller book Bringing Up BeBe by Pamela Druckerman, the effectiveness of teaching patience to kids through baking is discussed. The book is a comparison of American parenting vs. French parenting and in my opinion it seems that French parents have some inside secrets into how to raise patient, independent, emotionally aware, kids who are calmly present rather than anxious, irritable and demanding.

So let’s dive in and see how this baking/patience thing is done.  As soon as French children are able to sit up their parents begin to guide them in weekly or bi-weekly baking projects.  A key element to the process is that the parents give up control over things being done perfectly.  Instead of just letting the kids help-out with a few things, the kids are allowed to crack eggs, pour sugar and eventually make the whole cake themselves. They often reuse yogurt cups to act as measuring cups and allow the kids to have fun with it within the boundaries they’ve outlined.

The disciplined nature of baking is the perfect lesson in patience because it teaches kids that there is an order and sequence to how things need to be done to obtain the desired result.  In today’s fast paced, instant gratification, technological based society teaching kids the importance of self-control and patience is imperative to their development and overall happiness as human beings.

For the French the lesson in patience does not end once the cake is out of the oven and ready to eat.  The kids understand they must wait until afternoon snack to enjoy the fruits of their labor.  This may come off as too harsh or rigid but if we think about this as a teachable moment, learning to delay satisfaction and develop the skill of patience is much more beneficial than instantly having that warm piece of cake. By having consistent baking projects for the kids French children not only become good little bakers but are also well versed in the art of patience.

A plethora of baked goods and patient children, who doesn’t want that?! Not to mention the free time you will have once they are engrossed in their baking project.

Using an activity like baking to teach an important life skill is my kinda parenting philosophy.  Fun activity + life lesson = happy kids and happy parents.

Helpful tips:

1.  Make baking a regular activity.  The more practice kids get, the more patience they will have!

2.  Don’t be a helicopter head baker, let them take the lead.  Yes, there will be a mess to clean up but we all learn through mistakes.  This shows them that you trust them and fosters independence.

3.  Set up clear expectations ahead of time.  Decide when you will eat the treat and what the boundaries are for sneaking bites before it’s baked.

4.  We must model patience ourselves.  If we can’t wait until the cake is done baking or until afternoon snack to eat it than we can’t expect that from our little one’s.

Side note:  Stick to healthy ingredients, stay away from food coloring (it’s toxic), use applesauce to sweeten and add moisture, mix in some love, patience and you’ve got a recipe for success!

Want more healthy substitute suggestions?  Check out the amazing Health and Wellness Coach Amanda Whitworth at The Savoury Soul for expert advice on how to keep yourself and your family nourished and nurtured.

Happy Baking!

I’d love to hear how you get your kiddos involved in kitchen!  Leave your comments below!

2 Comments

  1. Leanna Long Author

    Thanks Carrie! Happy to hear that you were inspired to bake some muffins. Waiting is definitely a challenge but if you make it a game then it can less hard and more fun! You could set it up as a challenge to see who can wait the longest to eat them after they are done baking. The winner could maybe pick what you have for dinner that night as an extra bonus!

  2. Great post Leanna! I absolutely adore baking and because of my busy schedule with work and life I have let my baking habits slide to the way side. With fall here and winter approaching, you’ve inspired me to use those ripe bananas and make breads and muffins again. Jacob has been asking me to make muffins lately too. Good thing because I’m making Pumpkin Muffins for both their Halloween parties as a healthy alternative. Thanks again. I will be thanking you when my house smells like a bakery again. Not sure about waiting to eat them until later…. that will be a challenge 🙂 Great food for thought!

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