I just read an article that states today’s average American consumes almost 580 calories more PER DAY than in a typical day during the 1970’s. It’s no wonder. Has anyone noticed recently that high calorie junk food is being sold EVERYWHERE? It used to be that nutrition-minded parents would only have to fight junk food battles with the kids in the grocery store (see my post on “How to Say No with Love at the Grocery Store”).
“Mom, but can I PLEASE just get some peanut butter cups?”
These desperate pleas for just one piece of candy now occur on every errand stop. Soda coolers and candy racks are positioned in front of almost EVERY check-out aisle including:
- Craft and hobby stores
- Clothing stores
- Sports stores
- Appliance and electronic stores
- Office supply stores
Gone are the days of telling your child that you don’t have any quarters for the candy machine. Just put a 250 calorie pack of candy on the conveyor belt with a 220 calorie bottle of soda and add it to the credit card.
Parents need to be ready with a well-thought out script to explain why those snacks are off-limits. Retailers know that kids are persuasive and that parents can have a hard time saying no. That’s exactly why they are selling M&M’s next to refrigerators and fishing poles.
Here’s the script that has worked for me. “Remember, I do not buy unhealthy snacks and candy at the store. We can have something better for you when we get home.” Years ago I put this script in place whenever we were in the aisle at the grocery or passed a vending machine or candy counter. Guess what happened after several dozen times of hearing the script? THE KIDS STOPPED ASKING. No joke!
The problem is that most parents only say no some of the time, and then give in when they are stressed, tired, or want to avoid a meltdown. Guess what happens when kids are presented with this kind of inconsistency? They keep asking for the junk food! Parents, if you want your script to work, you need to be CONSISTENT. That might mean carrying a child out of a store kicking and screaming the first few times you use the script. It means no exceptions. The script is often most effective when delivered with a soft touch and a simple explanation.
You might wonder if my kids ever get candy or junk food. Sure they do! There are plenty of other opportunities for kids to get treats. At holidays relatives spoil the kids, and don’t forget birthday parties and other occasions where junk food gets unavoidably passed around. With all these other chances for kids to get junk food I decided I would have to be the bad guy that says no in order to maintain balance.
Parents, know that the hard work of saying “no” is sometimes one of the most profound ways you can show love, and that will make your kids healthier, happier, and wiser in the long run.