By: Brandy Black
I sat at Baskin Robbins with my 4-year-old eating ice cream cones in the sun, racing each other before they melted. I smiled at the mom and her kid sitting next to us and then became unsettled with their exchange. Her child was no more than 1 year old by my estimation, he couldn’t talk yet and was barely walking. She pushed the ice cream cone to his mouth and said
He shoved it away and shook his head no.
She tried again
“Try it, you’ll like it, it’s ice cream”
He pushed it back at her again.
“Just try one bite”
He tries a bite and shakes his head no.
She ate her ice cream quietly. A couple minutes later she made her request again.
“Try another bite, it’s really good”
I have never understood why anyone would give their child sugar before they can say the word SUGAR?! What possible good can you be doing by getting them addicted to something that they don’t even know exists. I understand if you are at a birthday party with a bunch of kids and your kid sees others eating cake and they want some too, fine give them some, no harm but to not listen to your child’s cues is downright awful. Sugar is the enemy. Let’s not be fooled, I’m addicted to it, most of us are, we don’t even realize that we need it in the middle of the day as a pick me up until we have a soda, or a cookie or a mocha and suddenly get a blast of energy followed by a crash but this is besides the point, we are grown-ups we make educated decisions that we have to live with but our children are at our mercy. They learn from everything we do and if we are teaching them at 6 months old (yes I’ve seen this) that ice cream is man’s best friend, should we be shocked when they are five that little Becky has a sweet tooth. Of course she does. She learned as a baby that we like sweets, that they make life happier, that candy is something all children should love. Have you ever spent time looking at children’s books and noting how often candy, ice cream, cookies,cakes etc are celebrated. Good kids eat sugar. Happy kids. Kids that didn’t cry when they got their shots. I think we are so desensitized that we don’t even realize how often we are telling our children how delightful sweet things are. When do we marvel at vegetables?
But the truth is kids don’t always want sugar. I sat at a birthday party and watched a grandmother spoon feed the birthday girl even after the little girl requested to go and play with her friends.
“Here have some more, finish your cake, the icing is good isn’t it?”
I understand, she was excited that it was her two-year-old granddaughter’s first experience with cake but she was more interested in her own pleasure of the moment than the little girl who ate her 5 bites and was now ready to move on.
I don’t believe in my children cleaning their plates, I don’t believe in telling them when they are or are not full, I don’t believe I should ever tell them how wonderful sugar is, I believe in listening and watching for their cues. I think it is my job to give them healthy options and let them choose the bad ones too but the key here is let THEM choose.
I was so anti-sugar when my wife and I had our first daughter that we would often argue because I didn’t want them to have any sugar at all at home. My wife felt that an extreme like that would leave them wanting more and ultimately cause the opposite affect that we were looking for.
I spoke at length with our pediatrician about this and she helped us make our decision by telling me about a study in which children over a three day period were given options of any food they wanted to eat with no restrictions or limits from parents. The first day the children chose the cookies and candy and all sugary things but over the next couple days they completely balanced out their eating and ultimately ate the foods that made their bodies feel better. She explained that if we really listen to our children’s cues that we’d be surprised how they will self regulate.
I decided after hearing this news that I would meet my wife in the middle allowing sugar to pop in and out of our lives with the goal of no negative or positive emphasis on it. Surprisingly our daughter sometimes doesn’t finish her dessert at all or will skip it completely and other days will devour it and ask for seconds.
It is a goal of mine all together to not allow food and my children’s relationship to food to overtake them. Food is something we need to give us energy and keep us healthy, it is used as an excuse to gather around the table and tell stories about our day, to spend time together as a family.
So, please, whoever you are out there at the Baskin Robbins, stop feeding your kid ice cream when he says NO! Maybe you should in fact listen to your child as he is already showing early signs of obesity along with 30% of the children in this country.