Children will listen!

Stephen Sondheim

Into the Woods


Careful the things you say

Children will listen

Careful the things you do

Children will see and learn

Children may not obey, but children will listen

Children will look to you for which way to turn

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Having been obese, I am careful not to let my past transgressions adversely affect my kids' lives. I want them to live a normal, carefree childhood without the stress of worrying about weight. "It turns out that children are more likely to gain weight over ten years if their parents see them as overweight. Published in Psychological Science (2017), the first study followed 2,823 Australian families for about ten years. Researchers measured the children's weight and height during an in-home visit when they were 4 or 5 years old, and again at follow-up, a decade or so later. During the baseline visit, the parents were asked to characterize their children as underweight, normal weight, somewhat overweight or very overweight. During the second in-home visit when the children were 12 or 13, they privately answered a questionnaire on how they perceived their own body shape and weight loss efforts. Findings showed that children tended to gain more weight if their parents perceived them as overweight and that children seen this way were more likely to view their bodies negatively... The second study which included 8,568 families in Ireland yielded similar results." (IDEA Fitness Journal April 2017). In my household, we don't calorie-count or make the scale a major focus of our lives. Rather, from an early age, I've taught my boys what a healthy portion looks like for their age, that natural foods are far better than anything packaged, and for those few occasions when we do buy packaged items, I taught them how to look at the back of boxes for nutrition content and to avoid fake colors, preservatives and added sugars. They know that drinks containing high fructose corn syrup and that look fluorescent cannot be good for them. Having said this, I've been very careful not to entirely cross these items off the menu. In their eleven and thirteen years on earth, they have had McDonalds or Wendy's, maybe twice, when they were out and about with other kids their age. I felt that the camaraderie and relationship-building they were doing outweighed the short-term, negative effect of that rare fast food. And they have had soda once or twice a year during elementary school at carnivals. I believe that a complete NO-NO approach will have the reverse effect and make them crave those nutritionally-deficient foods more. My goal as a Mom is to empower them so that when they have to make food choices on their own, they have the ability to distinguish what will give them reliable fuel and what will prolong good quality of life. So by all means, keep a steady eye on what goes into your child's mouth, make good-quality foods easily at reach in your household, but every once in a while, LET THEM EAT CAKE! You may yield better results than did Marie Antoinette.

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