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Nerdy Science in the Kitchen

7 Tips for Teaching Your Kids How to Use A Knife



Does your little chef like to help you out in the kitchen? If your child is your sous chef in the kitchen, you need to teach them how to use a knife safely.

Even if your child has no interest in cooking, a quick lesson on how to use a knife properly is still necessary.

You do not want to be cutting their food for them all the time; hence it is necessary that you teach your children this important life skill now. Here are 7 tips that you need to teach your kids on using a knife:

Mom and Kid Cutting Food

1. Stand at the Proper Height

For you, the height of the kitchen counter may be perfect, but for your child, it may not be. You need to make sure that your child stands at the right height while cutting. You can get a stool or chair for your child. The stool or chair should put the kitchen counter at waist height, as it is essential that your child sees what he/she is clearly cutting on the cutting board.

2. Stand Up Straight

You also need to keep an eye on the cutting posture. They need to stand up straight while cutting. Your child may become so engrossed in cutting the food item before them that they may lose their correct standing posture and start to slump a little.

Also, ask them not to place their elbows on the kitchen counter while cutting, as it can cause them to lose balance and slip. Additionally, ask them to stand as straight as possible and most importantly, ask them to remain focused on the food they are cutting using a knife or some other cutting tool.

You can give your children fruits, such as apples and bananas and vegetables, such as peppers and cucumbers to practice their knife skills.

3. Hold the Knife

To hold the knife, teach your kids ‘the pinch grip’. The first knife holding technique is the pinch grip. It involves placing the thumb and forefinger at the bottom of the knife. This holding technique will give them more control and steadies their hand while cutting.

The second knife holding technique is ‘the pointer grip’. The pointer grip involves placing your index finger at the top of the knife. Doing this will steady your hand. Teach your child both techniques, but he/she is likely to pick the technique that comes naturally to them.

4. Protect the Fingers

You need to teach your child how to protect their tiny fingers while cutting a food item. Your child needs to grip the food item firmly as they cut, especially smaller food items, such as potatoes, tomatoes, and smaller pieces of vegetables.

A common technique to teach them to protect their fingers is called the claw. This technique involves curling your hand into a claw-like shape with your fingernails resting or holding the food. The entire purpose of this technique is to keep your fingers away from the blade of the knife and cut the food safely.

5. Rock Away Technique

The rock away is the most common technique to teach your child for chopping food. The cutting technique involves rocking the knife’s blade from one point to the other point. Tell them to begin by putting the point of the knife’s blade on the cutting board and then pushing the blade away from it.

6. Chop and Draw Technique

The chop technique involves a child placing the palm of their hand flat on the top of the knife’s blade. This allows them to push the knife away as they move it in a 45-degree direction, doing this back and forth to the cut the food.

The draw technique is an optimal cutting technique for longer fruits and vegetables. Your child can use a smaller knife, as it will give them more control over its movements, to cut the food. This cutting technique involves them placing their hand at the tip of the knife’s blade on the cutting board and then drawing the tip towards them.

7. Use a Sharp Knife

You should not use a dull knife to cut food, as it can create a hazardous situation. There is a likely chance that the dull knife may slip as you are cutting the food and cause an injury. When using a sharp knife, instruct your kids to cut the food slowly. You also need to turn off anything that might distract your child from cutting the food. You need to ensure they focus on what they are cutting instead of being distracted from the TV, music, or chatter.

Are You Still Nervous About Giving Your Child a Knife to Cut Food?

As a parent, being nervous is okay, but since using a knife is such an important life skill, you need to put your fears aside and invest in a starter knife safety kit for your child. They can use these knives for the first few years of their lives, practicing the cutting techniques shown here until they can move on to using adult knives.

If your child loves to cook food, you need to take out time and teach them how to use kitchen knives properly. For the first few years of their life, make sure to supervise them as they cut different food items. If you are busy some days or need to cook food in a hurry and know that you will not be able to supervise them, tell them to sit this one out for now.

It is important that if not you, another adult supervises them as they cut food because if used improperly, knives can be dangerous. Most importantly, always boost your child’s confidence, especially if they are struggling to master a cutting technique.

Kitchen Professor author
About the Author: Rhonda Richardson, Editor

Rhonda grew up with parents who gardened, hunted, fished, canned, and preserved food. Her mother was a professional cook and Rhonda credits her teaching everything from how to make homemade biscuits and gravy to what kind of meals to serve for different occasions. In the kitchen, Rhonda uses a mix of old-fashioned country cooking and up-to-date fads in the kitchen, often experimenting with replacing higher-calorie or fat ingredients with healthier options that still retain the delicious flavors of the originals.

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