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Let your kids learn to say ‘no’ to junk food. It won’t be easy but with these four steps, you might just teach them to say ‘no.’
If I say, ‘let you kids say no’ I am very sure you will all wonder what kid will say the golden word. For it is quite often our (parents’) buzzword!
But, kids also can say ‘No,’ and they must say ‘No’ to certain situations. One among them is saying no to junk food when offered. Teaching the difference between healthy food, unhealthy food is very easy. However, the problem arises when it actually happens.
Let me give you an example. My kid understood what is healthy and what is unhealthy easily. But, the problem arose when we once offered him some cake at a party. I remember telling him cake was junk food and basically unhealthy. However, at a birthday party, when he was offered some cake, he was confused.
He looked up at me and said, ‘Amma, you told me that cake was unhealthy. So why are you offering it to me now?’ That’s when I understood that letting him understand limitations is difficult. However, with time, we managed to achieve the right balance and I am very proud of how we’ve got here.
I also remember this one time when we visited my sister at her house. My son was offered a cold drink in our presence. But before we could respond, he politely but clearly declined it saying it was junk.
They offered the drink to him again after I’d left the room. And again, very politely he declined it He said, ‘I want to drink it but only if Amma says it’s not junk. So please ask her.’ That moment really humbled me. So let me tell you how I did that!
Talking and talking helped me a lot. Telling my son what was healthy and why it was so was important. Let your child be involved in the discussions. I know it won’t be easy but whenever you get angry at their questions, try to calm yourself down.
What I would do was, tell myself that asking him to stop his questions won’t help anyone. He wouldn’t understand or know what good habits were and won’t have clarity on the same. If I couldn’t convince him, how was I supposed to convince the elders?
Another thing to keep in mind is when to talk. The kids have a lot of questions in their minds. And the best time to discuss these things is when they’ve asked you ‘why.’ When they ask you ‘why did you say this?’ whether it is while eating or watching TV, that is when you can answer their questions.
Which one has a high priority? Setting an example or talking? I am no one to decide for you, but to me, both are important. Children don’t just learn from not what they hear, but from what the see as well.
The reason my son said no to the cold drinks and yes to chocolates whenever either was offered, was very simple. I didn’t drink any cold drinks after he was born and whenever I was offered those, I would decline. My son saw that and followed it.
No matter how hard you try, try will be limitations, some that you absolutely cannot avoid. At such times, I try to explain to him why certain junk is acceptable, that it is okay every once in a while and in certain quantities.
In such scenarios, I am very proud of him for even though he likes certain foods, he clearly says no when offered more than the basic quantity. He never overdoes it.
Involving my son in making decisions was another key point that helped me. Not only when I decided what to cook but even when we were out, I asked him what he prefered from the available options.
For example, when we had gone on vacation, the breakfast options at the resort were idly, doughnuts and mixed omelettes. So I asked him what he wanted. He asked me if he could have doughnuts and if they were healthy. My response to that was, ‘Though it isn’t healthy, you can have them once in a while. So you can eat them now.’
Now imagine, if I had taken a plate with two idlies without considering what he wanted. It most definitely would’ve led to a tantrum. So, involving the child, discussing the food with them and giving respect to them are important factors here.
All said and done, I wish I could explain to him why some people are eating junk food when it is unhealthy. At the same time, I also wish I had an answer to all the people who tell me that I need to make him stronger by letting him eat everything and not being so picky. At the end of the day, we are all winging it, aren’t we?
Ps. If you think my kid listens to me all the time, you will be wrong. There are a lot of gaps and mistakes that we make. But what matters the most is that we are trying.
Picture credits: Still from Hindi TV series Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hain
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