When it come to teaching healthy habits to our children, a little less conversation and a little more action, is the name of the game. Kids learn by observing how their parents live. Better said kids learn from what we do. Not what we say.
It’s less effective to tell your children we need to watch what we eat and exercise more. It’s better your child see you exercising consistently, and eating healthfully. Kids will emulate your behavior even if they don’t realize they are.
I made a policy with myself to never speak of weight around my children. Click here for more on that subject. I frame food choices as less healthy or healthy. I tell the kids the actual grams of sugar in something and give them a frame of reference for it. I let my children make choices. For example, when it comes to choosing chocolate milk or a fruit snack. I ask them do you prefer to eat or drink your sugar? The choice is theirs.
That said, I don’t make every food decision that comes their way a big deal. Hell, one of my kids has thrown up after eating too many red vines and popcorn at the movies twice now! I feel that’s a better lesson than me endlessly nagging. After all, no one likes to throw up. Everyone learns better from experience. Nobody likes to being told what to do.
When it comes to parenting, choose your battles. Food might not be one of them. Save all your directives for school, safety, and manners. Give kids plenty of wiggle room to learn about their bodies. Hence, the red vine incidents.
The last thing we want to do is train our kids out of their innate ability to self-regulate their eating habits. Don’t subscribe to the clean plate policy it teaches your kids to eat past their level of fullness. However, there’s nothing wrong with telling kids no dessert if you don’t eat your vegetables or fruit. It’s all about balance. The more energy you put into your kid’s habits that you don’t like the more evidence of those habits they’ll show you.
Growing up my house had nothing junky to eat. I would go to my friend’s house and eat them out of house and home. Ice cream, chips, and the piece de resistance twinkies! Anything Hostess brand I wanted. The first time in college I went grocery shopping on my own I purchased Ding Dongs. It turns out I didn’t even like that crap all that much it was the forbidden fruit concept. I wanted what I didn’t have growing up.
I gotta tell y’all about Sugary Cereal Summer! I started this tradition when my step-children were little. I didn’t want to be the uncool house all year long, so I allowed the kids any cereal they wanted during the summer. You name the sugary cereal; we had it. By the way, it’s kinda fun for adults too!! I can get down with a box of Golden Grahams!!
During the school year, kids need to eat a healthy breakfast that keeps them full til lunch. I explained to the kids you’ve got to be able to think while you’re at school. Sugary cereal isn’t brain food nor does it keep you full. During the summer your home so when your hungry an hour after eating nutrient lacking sugary cereal you can eat again. Plus, you’re not thinking too hard during the lazy days of summer. From a calorie burning standpoint eating sugary cereal in the summer makes more sense because kids swim a lot. I look forward to the initial shopping trip loading up the pantry with all the bright, colorful boxes. Summer break for kids is only nine weeks. Even though at times it can seem longer lol! Nine weeks out of 52 is not bad, that’s a little under 6% of the year.
I made an amendment to Sugary Cereal Summer last year. My kids fight with each other more if they start the day with sugary cereal so now it’s a snack or dessert only. Picked that idea up from a client of mine who always gives me great parenting advice, she has four boys.