On Sunday my kids were given Easter baskets full of the “traditional” Easter candy. Chocolate bunny? Check. Jelly beans? Check. M&Ms. Chocolate eggs. Peanut butter eggs. Sour patch jelly beans. Why would someone who eats clean, and usually stays far from this stuff, let her kids have it? And not only have it, but have a LOT of it?
The first thing I want to say is that this is the only candy my kids will get until the next holiday (which is 4th of July. They will get candy from the parade we always go to.) My kids know this. They know that this candy has to last, because it’s all they are going to get.
On our fireplace mantle each of our kids has a bucket. The Husband’s aunt has bought them for the kids, and they are great! They have a bucket that matches each holiday/season décor. I just switch them out as I redecorate. Anyway.
The bucket on the mantle. Their Easter candy will be transferred to their buckets. Once a week or so they will get to pick a treat. The rest of the time the buckets stay on the mantle and the kids know what is in them. We have done this for so long, that the kids know they have candy, but they are also very okay with not eating it all at once. They are okay with picking one piece and leaving the rest for later, sometimes much later. They have barely finished their Christmas candy. In April. I’m not concerned at all about them making this candy last a long time.
I think that doing it this way is teaching them a couple things. Number one is self-control (that seems to be a theme in my life lately. Self-control.) My kids are so great when it comes to self-control and food. I want to keep encouraging this and give them chances to practice it. It is a life-long skill that they will always benefit from.
The second thing it is teaching them is that it is okay to have a treat once in a while. In general my kids eat very healthfully. Not kidding, they generally eat the vegetables off their plates before anything else. I always keep a house full of fresh fruits and vegetables, and more often than not they choose these for snacks over anything else. I think that when people try for perfect they will always fail. Because people aren’t perfect, and neither are circumstances. It just doesn’t happen. I want my kids to know that. We can’t have a perfect diet, we have to be okay with the occasional “cheat”. My kids know that overall we have to feed our bodies the ‘perfect’ food for them, but that once in a while a treat is okay. I personally think that, as a whole, this is the best way to do it.
My third reason is probably the one that will be most disputed. I do it because I want my kids “to be like the other kids”. If my kids go to school and all their friends are talking about their candy, and my kid has nothing to say… what is she going to think? Maybe not so much at age 7, but when she is older it will encourage rebellion. My goal as a parent is to teach my kids how to make the correct decisions for themselves, not to shelter them from all decisions. If they are refused the chance to have the things that other kids are having, they are just going to sneak it (which defeats the purpose of keeping it from them in the first place).
Moderation. Self-control. Learning to make the right choice for themselves. Letting my kids be kids. These are the reasons I allow my kids to acquire candy on certain Holidays, and then help them to eat it the correct way. By not making an issue out of it, it has become a non-issue for us. My kids are the least picky kids I’ve ever met when it comes to food. They are also the healthiest kids I know. Many people have shown me shocked faces when they have asked one of my kids what their favorite food was (and instead of the usual answer of cheese pizza they get something like mushrooms or broccoli). I think we are doing okay.
How about you? Have any good stories on succeeding or failing with moderation? (share below!) Do you have picky eaters in your family? Are YOU a picky eater? What is one thing you can commit to eating this week that you have never tried before? I encourage you to buy something new every time you go to the grocery store, and then learn how to prepare it correctly. Maybe you will find your own new favorite food that will shock someone.
And don’t forget. Smile and have a great day!