From the time our children are conceived, we want the best for them. From health and nutrition to all the essentials, and not to mention- all the things we didn’t have as a kid. Let’s face it, we have big dreams for our littles, and why shouldn’t we? Before they are born, what do we do? Shop until we drop…then after they’re born we shop a lot more. From the best nutrition essentials , diapers, clothes, swing , stroller, you get the idea…That’s what parenthood is about right? It’s best for the best!
Nutrition during infancy, childhood, and through adolescence is essential for growth and development and health and well being. During this time, eating behaviors are established and tracked into adulthood. This is the time-development of positive decision making will start and carry on throughout their entire lives. It starts with us and what we teach- or don’t for that matter…
What happens when our littles get an opinion and a voice? They start dictating what they like and don’t like, what they want and don’t want, and they sure don’t hold back in any ways of doing so. What does a parent do? Give in? Stay strong? As a busy mom of 3 I would say both…And the littles know how strong or weak mom and dad are before we do. Suddenly, out of no where, these little tykes are professionals! And us- as parents, only hope that they are that confident as an adult in positive decision making, as they are letting us know about everything they may not want or like from the first time they figure it out.
The little nag masters are very keen and observing. But how? Their little brains are super absorbent sponges…and the marketers know it and help influence this. It’s a little term referred to as pester power! From those little character snacks and puffs to nuggets, juice, soda and the rest of the not so healthy goodies, it’s the phenomenon marketers use to get parents to buy their products.
Pester power is a phrase used to describe negative connotations of children’s influence in their parents buying habits. Guess what? The littles DO NOT FORGET what they like, don’t like, and sure remember exactly what they want. Whether it be healthy or not- and not to mention, ‘WANT IT NOW!’
Marketing companies know this and target children starting from the time they are a toddler. These companies foster brand building and influence food and product purchase behavior. That’s right, they get us to buy their products through our child(ren). Kiddos are channeled through television advertising, product placement, kids clubs, internet, and toys and products with brand logos.
Children are used as a major market force in the Food and Beverage industry. They are the assumed and ultimate weapon in influencing family spending by how kids consistently nag parents for these products. It’s part of their plan. And let’s face it when it comes to eating when we are not at home, this makes for an even more difficult experience, especially if you’re trying to stay to the healthy side of things. Families are eating more food away from home trying to juggle different schedules between work, school, and extra curricular activities. Foods that are consumed outside the home are 50% or more in calories being in fat and added sugar. These foods are inconsistent with dietary recommendations and contribute to long term health and chronic disease.
How can we as parents, stray away from these tactics? Michigan State University has done a bit of research and have 4 suggestions to help parents through these situations. After all, we will be faced with decisions for the rest of our lives, why not influence our children to make smart, healthy choices from the start.
1. Talk to your children. Discuss healthier options. Use positive instruction and coach them in managing their feelings. Teach them to read labels and understand what they are consuming. Take them through the healthy options and have them make their own healthy choices. Get involved from a different angle and mix it up. Teach children that what we consume requires thought and why. Discuss needs from wants. Believe it or not they understand more than we think and will reiterate their new found knowledge to others.
2. Set healthy limits and routines. Kids need boundaries. Boundaries teach children to gain self control, which in turn allows them to regulate their behavior positively. Help guide your little with positive decision making and how it will positively affect them later. Teach them to be proud of their new found decision making. Make rewards for positive decisions and redirect the not so positive ones into a positive result. This will help to continue the influence of positive decision making throughout their lives.
3. Read and educate your child. There are so many children’s books that help with teaching children in positive decision making. From nutrition to earning and saving money, hygiene, and any other subject of concern, there’s a book to cover it. Take a library trip and make your time and efforts count. Good habits start with parents and education.
4. Explore resources that can help. There are all sorts of clubs, educational classes, and tools to help us as parents in our time of need. Do a little research and see what is available in your area/community. You’re not alone in wanting to pass along positive decision making to your littles- the right way. Any available resources will offer additional education, literature, and tools to help with your journey. Teach children that marketers and advertisers want their money and are not concerned about their well being. Help our kids become educated and remember buying what they want does not spell L-O-V-E. It starts with us as parents and our teachings from the beginning- that love comes from within and loving ourselves first is the key to a happy life.