An interesting question which comes up for discussion in my line of work fairly frequently is “How do you get around your kids being given “treats” by their soccer coach/tennis coach/doctor/teacher/other authority figure. In many cases, quite young kids attend sports training sessions or events, and at the end of the session, all the kids line up and receive a lolly. It’s something I’ve heard time and time again, and I’ve had similar experiences with my own kids. Having sports coaches (or doctors or teachers) giving kids lollies just sends such a bad massage. These are the people who kids generally look up to, who kids model their health related behaviour on, and it simply isn’t healthy for kids to be given a sugar hit at the drop of a hat. In the case of sporting activities, these are often not every-so-often event. They are every week, each and every time a child attends a session.
“But it’s just a little treat”! Yes, it is just a little treat, but when so many people are giving your kids little treats, it turns into one constant stream of treats. It becomes the norm.
Week two of year one for my youngest son and cupcakes were on the menu for someone’s birthday. That’s fine, I knew it was happening and I could adjust anything else he was eating accordingly. Same day, a very kind hearted parent brought iceblocks to the school for all of his class because it was such a hot day. Great idea, and very nice gesture, but for most kids it meant two lots of junkish food in one day. It also meant that the frozen watermelon balls I’d so lovingly prepared for my boys to have for afternoon tea had to wait for another day! I miss out on sharing the guilty pleasure of a chocolate popped into the mouth when no-one’s looking, the stop off at the bakery on the way home from school for am apple turnover, because someone else has already got there with the junk food before me.
It’s hard to resist yummy stuff when it’s offered to you, even more so when you’re a kid. Even more so when it’s offered to you by someone who is teaching you about good health – a tennis coach, a soccer coach, a doctor a teacher…. you get my drift. So it’s our job to make sure our kids have a healthy diet. And the only way we can do that is if people don’t keep mis-treating our kids.
No-one else knows what my kids have been eating – they could have been on a 2-day food fest and are now not eating junk for a month. The point is, each family is different, each kid’s eating habits are different and we should take that into consideration when considering whether it’s appropriate to offer kids a “treat”.
Stop the press. My six year old has just this very minute come home with a chocolate from one of the girls in his class for Valentines Day (not that she has a soft spot for him, everyone got one). So this week (so far) it’s been one cup cake, one iceblock, one rather delicious looking heart shaped chocolate. This is what I know he’s been given. On offer also this week at school have been iceblocks being sold for the year six fund raising effort!
So what can you do about it?
- Firstly, be polite when you are asking people not to give your kids sweets. No matter how much your blood may be boiling, keep calm and try to explain why you don’t want that for your child. Come up with another suggestion. When my kids did Minitots soccer – a great soccer program for pre-schoolers, which handed out sweets at the end of a short session of soccer skills, I simply said they weren’t to have lollies, and perhaps a sticker would be appropriate (I really thought nothing would have been more appropriate, but thought that may have been pushing it).
- Let your child’s teacher know how you feel and ask them to make sure your child brings home any cupcakes, lollies etc he’s been given so that YOU can decide when and if they have them
- Talk to your children to try to get them to understand why it’s important for them not to just take every bit of junk food that comes their way. My kids both spent 4 yrs at long day care having rice crackers and homus or tahini, or their favourite, vegemite and avocado, for morning and afternoon tea instead of the biscuits and cakes which were standard fare. They still shared birthday cakes It didn’t seem to bother them that much, but my oldest hasn’t eaten avocado in a while come to think of it.
- Try to let your kids have a part in the decision making process of whether or not they should eat something. I try to get them to think about what else they’ve been eating lately. We also look at the amount of calories in some things, and then decide if it’s worthwhile giving up half their dinner for a couple of lollies.
Had enough? add your voice below. Had enough of me talking about it? Tell me that as well.