Something I have found to be very helpful (especially since I have to monitor and limit sugars (in particular) around my daughter’s food sensitivities – which contributes so easily to her emotional meltdowns / triggers – is what I refer to as the 3 E’s … EMPATHIZE, EDUCATE and EMPOWER. While each situation will vary, here is one way I approach her when I hear her “need or want”.
I first (EMPATHIZE) with her and say something like…“I get it, you want that cookie or candy and given that it is X time or you just had X food or before we can consider X “sweet” and mommy’s job is to make sure you are getting the best nutrients for you body (EDUCATE) first and foremost and that serve your body. So let’s have X for lunch or snack or dinner and perhaps mommy may allow a small bite of X as a treat. Can you help me think of what healthy foods your body can have first? (EMPOWER). This conversation truly varies but essentially always includes the 3 Es (and she knows that these types of foods are “exceptions” and not the rule) – even if every other kid on the planet is having them.
Important to recognize that I have spent a fair amount over the past year and a half really educating my daughter on making healthy food choices – ever since we started Brain Balance back in March 2016. I have explained to her how X foods (specifically sugar-based don’t work very well for her body in particular and create more intense emotions / triggers). Of course, I am very aware that there is a fine-balance to integrating these “treats” in a way (I choose very wisely given her day or emotional state or prior night’s sleep or any other imbalances I am noticing) because if I were to restrict “too much” she could perhaps go the other way (like Dr. Shefali often teaches) with sneaking, lying and I don’t want to co-create that manifested “behavior” as a result – which is what I find through my parent coaching sessions that many parents experience in their homes and long-term when their children become teens.
Even recently, when we were driving home from school, my daughter wanted a “treat” for having a good day (and drop off) at car pool. While I agreed to a small treat, I did let her know that I had to limit the amount I gave her (given it was close to day end) and she still needed to eat dinner. She was understanding and when she learned that the donut place was too far from where we were in that moment, she got upset and started to cry. I told her that it didn’t mean she wouldn’t get her treat but that we would have to find another option that worked better for where we were. Just in that sharing alone, she began to calm down and we worked through it together very well and found an alternative. After getting her treat and the rest of the drive home, I found her getting out a piece of paper – all on her own – where she began creating a list of “good foods and bad foods” (see below). No guidance from me, all her own idea. What a beautiful moment to EXPERIENCE. The 3 E’s (EMPATHIZE, EDUCATE and EMPOWER) are truly a great way to EXPLORE deeper connection with our children. Would love to hear your shares if you feel inspired to incorporate into your parenting.
Featured Image – Courtesy of The Asian Parent