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How good are your children at using their mobile device, accessing an online movie clip or posting cute selfies on Snapchat? What about making their own beds, or creating a wholesome breakfast for a great start to the day, or packing themselves a lunchbox that contains all the nutrition they need for a busy day at school?
A recent survey by Weet-Bix Better Brekkie revealed eight in ten (78%) children aged 5-7 years could operate a cell phone and a further nine in ten (89%) have mastered a TV remote, but less than a third (29%) of this age group make their own lunch.
Less than half (49%) of young Kiwi children usually eat a nutritious breakfast seven days a week; however as children grow older, the figures get worse. Just one-third of children between the ages of 13 year and 15 years are eating breakfast in the mornings every day, and half of this age group skip breakfast altogether once a week.
The figures are a wake-up call for parents and professionals alike. Sanitarium has developed the Weet-Bix Better Brekkie initiative www.betterbrekkie.co.nz, in which popular Kiwi chef Michael Van de Elzen creates easy, delicious and nutritious breakfasts designed to inspire adults and children alike to pile into a breakfast with a punch, and prep a lunch like a pro.
“It’s not that hard to create a really awesome and filling breakfast in minutes that the kids will love,” says Michael, who, as a dad to two young girls, understands all too well how hard it can be to juggle the balance of feeding children well with a busy schedule.
“A good breakfast doesn't need to take ages to prepare, or create stress in the mornings. Getting the children involved and teaching them to do simple tasks like packing a good lunchbox doesn't just take the pressure off parents - it teaches the kids basic skills they’ll use for the rest of their lives.”
The results of the Sanitarium Better Brekkie survey have caused concern, not just among parents who want their children to learn about healthy eating, but by health professionals who believe teaching kids household tasks like getting involved with simple chores like cooking and meal preparation is essential to children's development.
“Children these days are so invested in social media and the advances of technology, they`ve forgotten how to do the simple things,” says mum of four and psychologist Sara Chatwin.
“By allowing children to take part and get involved with simple household chores and prepping easy meals, you’re ensuring your children have some of the basic skills. It`s all very well taking over [as a parent] to get the job done quickly and well, but this detracts from children`s simple skill knowledge and learning.”
Despite a whopping 99% of parents believing that learning to make your own meals is a vital life skill, the Sanitarium Better Brekkie survey results highlighted parents’ reluctance to allow their children to make their own breakfast, either because they didn't have time to clean up the mess, or because the morning rush is simply too stressful to include watching over the children in the kitchen or teaching them how to cook in such a time-pressured environment. A third (30%) of parents said they were concerned if they didn’t take matters into their own hands, the children would skip breakfast altogether, or choose an unhealthy option.
The survey was carried out by Sanitarium in conjunction with the company’s Better Brekkie programme and was designed to investigate Kiwi attitudes to breakfast, according to the company’s marketing manager, Jessica Manihera.
“I know in my own household that it's always a bit of a rush in the morning, but I also know it's important to prioritise a good breakfast for the kids as it sets them up for the day. I’m also mindful of how important it is for us as parents to encourage our children to make their own breakfasts and create good habits around food which will last them a lifetime,” says Manihera.
For more information see www.betterbrekkie.co.nz