Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Happy Easter!

I trust everyone who celebrates had a peaceful and enjoyable Easter holiday. My holiday was...long. But my kids had a good time and that is what matters, right? So I came across this article and thought it was a very appropriate tie-in to a holiday devoted to eating candy and chocolate. I had begun to notice this trend a while ago, but now that my daughter is preschool age, it is really evident.

I will start by saying that even though we did do pureed food with my daughter, we always made the food ourselves using fresh, whole foods. DH and I agreed that they whole "smash cake" trend for babies at their one-year birthday is...well, weird. There are lots of ways to let a kid get messy on a birthday. Why does sugar have to be involved? We gave my daughter her own sugar-free cake that DH found the recipe for and proudly made himself. She really enjoyed the treat. And yes, we had "regular" cake for the other guests.

I have a pretty unhealthy relationship with food and I know that. I want better for my kids. I know that the majority of eating habits start when kids are young. So much sugar and sweeteners and colors and preservatives and other additives are thrown into foods, even those we might consider "healthy", (like milk?!) it seemed unnecessary to expose them to candy and sweets. We all know that it only a matter of time before they go to a friend's house, etc. and have Twinkies or whatever. No, we are not perfect health food junkies. My kids eat those cheese goldfish crackers and pretzels, granola bars and graham crackers. They have eaten pizza and chicken strips. They eat breakfast cereal, which I hate and DH and I argue about because it's little more than a bowl of cookies with milk poured on them. (He insists that because they are all fortified, that it all balances it out. I'd rather make eggs with fruit every morning.) On special occasions my 3-year-old has had cake, cookies, ice cream, etc. However, on the day to day, I think we do a pretty good job giving my kids a variety of healthful whole foods.

But back to the real focus of the article. My experience has been identical to the one of this author. Kids are given candy EVERYWHERE for EVERYTHING. I worked in a 6th grade classroom where the 6th grade special ed resource teacher would give the students a few pieces of candy EACH TIME they went to see him. I saw speech teachers give kids bags of candy for holiday parties, knowing full well that those same kids would be given bags of candy in their own classroom parties. In the high school I worked in there were VENDING MACHINES IN THE CAFETERIA. They would not turn on the vending machines until the end of the last lunch, but I saw many a child line up at the machine with their lunch money, after having not one bite of actual lunch, and spend all the money on chips. And we are not even going to start a discussion on what constitutes as a healthy "lunch" at schools nowadays. I once asked a class what I could do better as a teacher, and they told me that I should bring them candy...and they were 7th graders! Seriously? Candy? Doesn't that seem really immature for 13-year-olds? That is when I determined that too many kids are just plain addicted! Good grief!

I would whole-heartedly urge people who work with children to stop buying candy! The kids don't need it! If you want to follow the logic that the only way you can get kids to do what you want is to bribe them, then fine. But I beg you to use raisins, stickers, marbles, stamps, temporary tattoos, etc. In a country where the rate of childhood obesity is flying faster than the speed of light, it just makes sense. I think sweet treats are fine for special occasions. I am no Grinch. I have favorite cookies I associate with certain holidays and I expect my kids will too because that is normal. But I certainly don't see why our children should "earn" candy at every turn for every "good behavior" they exhibit. It just isn't necessary. Our babies are sweet enough.

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