by Lianne Castelino www.whereparentstalk.com
There is just so much out there to be mindful of as parents. So many warnings, side effects, danger zones, toxins — at home, school, in the backyard, on the field, in the arena, at the restaurant.
I for one tend to take all of this in stride by. My position? Everything in moderation.
Easter weekend is a prime example.
A reporter asked me earlier this week for an opinion on Easter chocolate and how to handle that with kids. My response was that Easter and Halloween are very similar. Kids will be likely be bombarded by copious amounts of sugary treats, chocolate animals, candy of varying kinds. The key is to help them set limits on this consumption — themselves — without them knowing it.
Unless you are comfortable with telling family members, grandparents, and others to refrain from buying chocolate Easter bunnies, then use it as an enjoyment and learning opportunity with kids. You just may be happily surprised.
For starters toddlers and younger kids don’t need to be given 10 chocolate Easter bunnies at once. Stash a few away. These little ones can only truly focus on one thing at a time so keep it simple for them.
For kids a little older, say 6 and up, the strategy can be altered slightly. They will likely pick up on how much chocolate they are receiving. Have them collect it all and do a recap with them when things are quiet. It could start with, “You guys are really lucky. Look at how many gifts you got. Now, how much of this chocolate can you really eat, do you think?” This forces the child to evaluate and think. Create two piles – what the child wants to keep and what they don’t want. More times than not kids will decide to give away more than they keep. If they struggle with this concept then gently prodding them may be in order. Things like, “maybe we could give this to XXX down the street, the newspaper guy, the local shelter, the mailman, whomever.” They will likely be tickled by decide who to share their stash with! Suddenly you’ve taught them how to set their own limits and how to think beyond their own worlds — two incredibly important lessons.
By the time your child is 10 and older, hiding chocolate or forbidding them to eat it will most certainly not work. Hopefully though they have learned to set their own limits.
The alternative is to tell everyone to keep chocolate away from your kids (which may insult people or make your kids resentful), or strip any piece of chocolate your kids may touch away from their little hands immediately (which could result in anger, a tantrum or the like).
The fact is too much chocolate is not a good thing. But a little won’t kill anyone. If kids are kept away from it intentionally, they will eventually find it someday — likely not at home —- and will probably stuff themselves into sugar oblivion.
What have they learned? Not much. And certainly not how to self-limit.
Being an extremist parent in this regard often only comes back to haunt. I’m always amazed by parents who use this style. They must be exhausted on a consistent basis. That and they likely live with heaps of guilt. What is the point?
If more people, kids and adults, could understand, appreciate and live using the ‘everything in moderation’ ideology, we probably would not have the slew of various health and other social issues that confound us today. Not to mention the self-entitlement mentality that still prevails.
Apply the chocolate ideology to others aspects of life and soon it’s even more clear. Chocolate, internet, overeating, alcohol, drugs, sleepovers, etc., etc.
Bottom line — setting limits is as important for kids as it is for adults. Moderation is one key way to achieve that. The Easter bunny would likely agree!