“What do you want for breakfast?”
“Sveeeeeeeties!” she screams, sounding suspiciously like the Grand High Witch in Roald Dahl’s Witches.
“You can’t have sweeties for breakfast Silly Billy. Would you like toast or Shreddies?”
“What about French Toast? You can crack the eggs for Mammy.”
“Do you want to crack the eggs?”
“Meeee cwack the eggses! I wub Fwench Toooast” – and just like that, I win. No row, just distraction. I’ve kicked the sugar craving in the arse.
But where, oh where does it come from? At what point did I teach my little girl that sweeties and chocolate covered cereals are the ultimate prize? How is it that she knows what to say to wind Mammy up in the morning?
We’re a pretty healthy family. We try not to eat overly processed foods. We eat a varied and balanced diet of good food and tasty treats. Mini-me has been eating the healthier versions of cereal since starting on solids, and her favourite breakfast is in fact Shreddies.
She gets sweeties and ‘choc-choc’ as a treat. We do reward good behaviour with a sugary treat…gasp! But to her, a raw carrot or cheese and grapes is also a treat.
We thought we were doing it right. We thought that we were teaching her to love healthy food and to see Sweeties as occasional treats. When I offer her diluted juice, she prefers water or milk. She won’t drink fizzy drinks; her choice. She loves fruit and breadsticks etc. We’re doing ok.
So how is it, that when she feels mischievous, she knows to ask for chocolate covered cereal which she knows we don’t buy?
Well, probably because she had them once while on a sleepover, and loved them, What child wouldn’t? It’s chocolate in a bowl…for breakfast!?
She also had great pleasure in throwing poor Granny under the proverbial bus one day “Granny gave me cocopops” she announced as we pulled into Granny’s driveway.
“Did she now? And did you like them?”
“I wub Cocopops”
Of course she does!
Listen, I get that people are happy to let their kids eat chocolaty breakfast cereals. I have no problem with that. It’s none of my business what other parents feed their little darlings.
We just choose not to give them to ours. That’s our prerogative as her parents. We know we can’t control what she eats all the time, especially when she’s with other people, but we can influence what she perceives as good food or as a treat as she grows up.
People don’t agree with us. Sure there’s no harm in them. My kids ate them and they didn’t do them any harm etc... Yes. Ok.
But we just don’t want to give them to her as an option.
Breakfast is one of the few chances we get to ensure that our little darlings leave the house ready for their day. If we want to make sure that they are fueled with goodness, rather than with sugar, that’s OK too.
I can smell the sweetie irony though. By offering sweeties as a reward for good behaviour, we’ve actually taught her that the sweeties are something precious and special.
So it’s absolutely my own fault now that she expects them as a reward for good behaviour. It’s absolutely my own fault that she sees sugary treats as the holy grail and would chose the chocolate bar over the plain biscuit.
Of course it is. But sure I would too.
As an adult, I have my own relationship with food. I love it. Eating is one of my favourite things to do. I love a bit of chocolate. I love the odd sweetie. I eat well and I’m active, so these devilish treats are fine. As is everything in moderation.
And that’s the key. Moderation.
She likes sweeties. She likes chocolate. So what? Who doesn’t.
She likes her good behaviour to be verified with a treat, so, I’m making an effort to replace these “rewards” with non-sweets from time to time. Her craft box full of feathers and glue is now offered as a reward for being a good girl. Or I let her watch Minions (again!).
And sometimes, I’ll just reward/bribe her chocolate. Sometimes I’ll offer her sweeties. Sometimes, I’ll share the sweeties with her, (but never with Daddy!), just because I can.
And yes, sometimes I’ll give her sweeties when she asks for them…but not for bloody breakfast!
I am Sweetie-Mum 🙂