As a parent, you want to encourage your children to make good decisions, but are your well-intentioned words sending the wrong message? Check out these five common parenting situations and learn how to steer your kids in the right direction.
"Eat your broccoli and you can have a brownie."
Reinforcing the idea that veggies don't taste good and using unhealthy food as a reward are two habits you want to avoid to encourage healthy eating. This tactic may also tempt your child to keep eating, even if she's full. Instead, serve dessert occasionally and offer it no matter how much she ate for dinner.
"No dessert unless you eat all your dinner."
Don't encourage your child to ignore her hunger signals and overeat. It’s your role to provide food, but it’s your child's role to decide how much to eat. Foster healthy eating habits and let her listen to her stomach as a guide.
"Great job with your chores. C’mon, I’ll buy you some ice cream!"
When we use food to get kids to behave, it sets up a lifelong habit of using food as a reward. Praise your child for doing something good, but avoid using food as a prize.
"You’re not allowed to order candy at the movies with your friends."
By forbidding foods and setting limits you can't enforce, you’re creating an unnecessary power struggle. Teach your child healthy habits and model those habits as often as you can. Then, trust her to make good decisions.
"If you play outside now, you can play video games after dinner."
Without giving a clear time frame up front, you’re setting yourself up for an argument later on. Instead, try, “If you play outside for an hour, you may play video games for 30 minutes after dinner.”