Have you ever heard yourself make any of the following statements to your kids:
- “If you’re good I’ll buy you an ice-cream”
- “Sit here quietly whilst I [insert task or appointment]”
- Child injures themselves, “that’s OK honey don’t cry. Here’s a lolly/chocolate/biscuit/yogurt/[insert any food]”
- Child succeeds in something, “Awesome work! Let’s celebrate; let’s go get an ice-cream”
What about when you are trying to occupy them or want them to do something?
- “We’ll only be an hour”, hands child food to occupy them
- “If you [insert task] I’ll give you a [insert food treat]”
- Out shopping, child sits in the trolley, you give them food to occupy them so you can shop without them screaming the place down.
These are just a few examples of many that apply here. Let’s face it we are all guilty of at least one of these at least once. I know I am certainly guilty, particularly when my kids were toddlers and younger.
But do we ever stop to think what repercussions these statements and actions may have? Are these sorts of comments and behavior responsible for our ‘emotional eating’ epidemic? I’m not a psychologist, so I couldn’t say conclusively. However as a Wellness Coach and Nutrition Counselor I can tell you that when I talk with my clients about their emotional eating habits and where it all began, all too often these examples have popped up with almost all of them. So it leads me to question, is our behavior as parents trying to find peace and quiet with our kids in various scenarios, raising emotional eaters?
What happened to kissing the graze better? Does it really matter if our kids cry? Isn’t it better that they learn to show emotion anyway so they can learn to handle and cope with their emotions?
What’s wrong with teaching our kids that sitting quietly without food is OK and finding something else to entertain them like drawing, writing, doing a puzzle, reading a book?
Surely we can bribe them into acceptable behavior with a trip to the park, quality time together, a toy, anything else but food?
Why am I thinking about this now, rather than when my kids were younger and I was using food as a weapon?
I don’t have an answer to this problem, but I thought I would share with you the questions that have arisen in my head, to get you thinking too, in case you too can come up with different strategies, and avoid the risk of raising emotional eaters. Any chance we get, if we can help reduce this epidemic, would be awesome.
From one mum to another. God bless.