Other Parents. You’ve got to love them!
Other parents provide us with the support we need. They are friends, sole mates, babysitters, counselors and, when the baby has been crying for hours, they are the only people who really know what we’re going through. In fact, we couldn’t do this job without them.
Having said that, other parents can also be quite perilous: They sometimes expose our children to different toys, different TV, and different foods than we would like. Sometimes they even do this without asking. Ever have a stranger offer your kid cookies? I have.
Here’s the scenario: You and your 5 year old are at a play date and the other parent gives your child a donut. What do you do?
Well, instead of rushing over and grabbing the donut out of your child’s hands, giving the other parent a stern talking to, or even a smoldering evil-eye, consider this:
Your child is going to be in situations her entire life where unplanned treats will appear, seemingly out of nowhere. She needs to know how to handle it.
Teach your child the two skills she needs to moderate her intake of junk.
- Don’t eat junk just because it’s there. You have to really want it.
- Before eating junk, forecast other junk-eating opportunities that are coming your way. Then, instead of indulging all the time, choose the times that appeal the most.
Navigating perilous parenting/food situations can be easy with some planning.
1) Set a daily limit on junk and then let your child chose when to enjoy. Candy with Breakfast?
2) If your child is given a donut at a playdate or a party, let her have it. It’s important that food choices never feel punitive and she’ll feel punished if you swoop in to take the donut away.
3) If another parent gives your child a donut that she hasn’t expressly requested, ask your child to consider whether or not she wants the donut at this time. Making your child consciously choose whether she wants to eat something is good practice – even if she always seems to choose the treat – because she needs to learn the lesson that she doesn’t have to eat something simply because it’s on the plate.
4) Use the occasion to teach your child to consider future events when she decides to eat treats. Don't say anything now, but when you get home discuss the idea of forecasting with your child. Introduce the idea that sometimes there are more treats available than we should eat so we need to make choices. The safest bet is to save junk for later in the day so we know what’s coming.
What if the other parent is your partner?
Well, now you’re on trickier terrain. After all, your partner should get a say in how your child eats. Work on coming to an agreement about what and how much the kids can eat and what constitutes junk.
Then focus on the lesson not the food. After all, it’s what your kids learn about what, when, why and how much to eat that matters.
~ Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits. ~