A three year old’s desire to paint her fingernails and a three year old’s desire to eat “junk” food are powerfully related. My daughter has been asking to paint her nails for at least a year now. As a mother I refused to accept she is old enough to put any type of cosmetic product on her body. After all she is only three, right?
This is the problem- she leaves my home. I cannot shelter her from the influences of the outside world.
- She sees other adults and children with nail polish.
- She sees other adults and children eating food I typically do not purchase or serve in my home.
- Other people offer to paint her nails.
- Other people offer her food I normally would not consider buying, serving or eating.
One day she came out of her “work room” with her nails painted many colors with markers. I soon realized, if I try to shelter her from nail polish she will figure out a way to get it and paint her nails.
I look at “junk” food the same way. I have an opportunity to teach her how to self regulate food and make healthy choices. If I shelter her from the food she sees other children eating, she may develop a mistrust association with me and food. I do not want to give junk food that much power.
After she was introduced to the nail polish it was a constant hit for 3 days. I now leave it in a place where she has full access to it. I took the power away and it is now an after thought. This theory can work with “junk” food as well.
Free Range of Popsicles!
I offer my child a “store” bought popsicle one time per day. She can decide when she wants to eat it. She can even eat it before a meal but she ONLY gets one. The stash is not out of her reach as she has full access to it. I am teaching her self control and trust at the same time. She knows I trust her to follow the rules and believe it or not- it works! I learned this theory from Dr. Dina Rose after reading “Lollypops Whenever They Want” (thank you!!!).
According to the The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition children who are forbidden “junk” food will only have a stronger desire to eat those foods. The article sites studies reporting that restricting access to foods may increase the child’s preferences and intake of the restricted foods while diminishing self-control in eating. – “the forbidden fruit” theory.
I am sure if you think of a non-food situation (nail polish) in your home, you may see the same pattern. I tried the “free range” lollypop theory with popsicles and nail polish. Yes, it works!!! The power is gone and my daughter controls her consumption. A great lesson for myself and her to say the least!