Health & Fitness
Our 5- year old granddaughter, Daniela, lives next door and loves to call and ask, “Can I come visit for a few minutes?”
She loves fruit and Bill usually makes her a fun fruit plate. Often they make a fruit snack together and most recently she makes her own fun fruit snacks.
Daniela also loves to play board games and matching games. A few months ago we played Candy Land and I said teasingly, "Whoever wins gets a piece of candy."
Daniela’s eyes lit up and when she won, she wanted her candy. Fortunately, I had a few pieces of candy from a gift basket we had received. Daniela was delighted.
The next time she came over and played Candy Land she assumed the winner would get a piece of candy. In Daniela's mind if you do something once it becomes a rule or ritual you always follow.
I was slow to discover this rule. I tried to persuade her to have a carrot and she compromised by suggesting that the winner get a piece of sugarless gum. She created a new rule- whoever wins gets gum. The next few times we played Candy Land, Daniela took the gum out of the package and had it ready for the winner.
I was not in favor of having a reward for the winner, but I’m Grandma and did move her from candy to gum. Daniela’s mom nixed the gum, so at our next Candy Land match I suggested that it was fun to play together and enjoyment of the game is really all we need. She could sense that the days of candy or gum were over so she said, "I know… let the winner have a bowl of fruit."
What a clever kid! She knows that I would never refuse her a bowl of fruit.
Daniela loves all fruits and most vegetables, but the pull of candy was so exciting and different. I learned my lesson!
How many of us remember being given a cookie or piece of candy when we got hurt? We need to think about the rituals we create for our kids.
Fortunately, Daniela never asked for candy or gum in any of the other games we play so it wasn’t too hard to break the habit.
We do have another food ritual. When I read to Daniela she has a snack- almonds mixed with raisins, dried cranberries or cheese and crackers. We both enjoy the warm feeling of reading and eating. ( I may be creating a life-long need to eat while reading.)
We need to think before we offer a child a snack- is it a reward, or a way to heal them when they get hurt? I have heard people complain that when they were growing up food was used to soothe sad feelings and they continue to use food in that way. Often these are people who have weight challenges.
I should know better, but I got caught.
I innocently created the candy rule for Candy Land and I will remember that for young children- once can become always so easily!