“All children get it for lunch!! What’s wrong with giving it to me!?”. Many of our mornings would start with this question.
On the one hand, you want to inculcate healthy eating habits in your children’s formative years and on the other hand, you don’t want to spoil your child’s mood in the morning !This is where the battle begins invariably.
The moment you hear the peer comparison punch line, “All children bring Maggie/Kurkure in their lunch-boxes”, you are on a weaker wicket. You feel defenseless, afraid of tarnishing your image as a “cool mom” or “fun-loving dad” by depriving them of fun things. The constant onslaught of advertisements showing how the whole family enjoys eating it is the final blow! The battle appears lost…
Not too long ago, there lived a princess with her parents. The Princess liked M&K a lot and that worried her parents. As she was the princess, there was no possibility of her parents imposing a direct “No, don’t eat that” command. So, the parents approached the problem differently.
The parents asked the Princess what she knew about ‘M&K’. The Princess knew that it tasted good and that it was irresistible. So they took this opportunity to show her some videos and articles, where the magic of mouth-watering taste was explained. The side effects disturbed her a bit. The parents then asked the Princess, if she would like to compare the nutritional facts on the wrapper against that of other healthy and good tasting food. The comparison was startling! The Princess started sharing similar information that she had heard but ignored in the past. This is when the Princess joined forces with her parents. They were ready to take on any opposition!
There was a bigger battle in front of the Princess now. She was haunted by cravings for the food she had given up. She felt the urge to eat it whenever she saw other kids eating it, whenever there was an advertisement or whenever she thought about it. Her parents, then, worked out a dual strategy against these hauntings. It was a combination of defense and offence.
The Princess took an active part in implementing this strategy. The first strategy was Defense – one day in a month was fixed, when she would surely get to eat ‘M&K’. The haunting monsters were half paralyzed by this strategy.
One evening when suddenly a thought of ‘M&K’ started filling up the Princess’ mind, the second strategy was lined up – the Princess was to trade ‘M&K’ with some other items that she liked more than ‘M&K’. With the Black-forest pastry on the table, the thoughts of ‘M&K’ were brutality killed!
The first strategy helped the Princess to ease into the battle against cravings and peer-pressure. The second strategy helped the Princess enjoy more, that too with less casualties! This was like her reward for winning her battle against the intake of ‘M&K’. A battle, which otherwise, could have been between the parents and the Princess, was ultimately won by them all jointly!!
1. Similar Parenting techniques can be implemented for TV-addiction, phone/chatting addictions etc.
Instead of saying a direct “No”, let the child take a decision
2. Do not restrict, instead reduce the quantity/frequency/need
3. Replace the problem with lesser impact attraction to start with – change focus