Let go of control (TV and sweets)

by Marilia Di Cesare on July 10, 2012

A while ago, back in Costa Rica, Luísa had to avoid white sugar to get rid of a skin condition.

It was the first time in my life I had to give up sugar as well (as I joined her needed sugar free diet)

We started eating healthy cookies and my 5-year old was ok with it. We would skip the diet once in a while (probably a few times a week).

Since then, we were still eating sweets out of the house, I just thought it was wise not to have it available in the house.

Now that she can have sugar again, we´ve been having it almost daily again (when we are out).

I was always saying no to sweet requests at the grocery store. ¨I know better for her health¨.

But I think I was encouraging her into more craving for sweets by making it scarce.

Some posts on Always Leanring Yahoo Group made me think more about this.This article: Moving Toward Less Control, Concerning Food has some exerpts from the forum. Like this comment:

¨I just can’t feel ok about that….it makes me so angry….I am not willing to subject my children…

If you go back through this [topic] and count the number of posts that are about the mom and how SHE feels vs. those about the kids and any problems they appear to be having, it is difficult to believe that the tv issue is about the the kids.

I used to be a tv controller, diet controller, behavior and thought controller (at least I thought I was). I was trained as a child psychologist….my poor kids *sigh*. I no longer go with that philosophy and have witnessed with my own eyes that limiting is the problem, not the solution.

You don’t even have to have “smart kids” for them to effectively self- regulate. Gee whiz, our dogs do it. We have two dogs that were raised in a suburban back yard. We now live on several acres, still anytime the gate is left open, those dogs take off and are gone for hours. We have two dogs that were raised on our front porch without any fencing. They never leave our yard. If a dog can figure it out, I think a child has a pretty good shot. ¨

My daughter was always after it at others houses and out in the street. It was annoying.

I decided to let the sugar come in the house. And she can have it anytime. It´s just me and her, and I can adjust our big meals in between her snacks…

What I realized instantly is that I have a much bigger issue with sugar than I could think of. It´s me who cannot control myself when a pack of cookies is opened, I´m not satisfied until I see the end of it.

My daughter, as I could observe, will eat a coupple of cookies and be fine with it.

I talk to her about my whole learning about food with her and how we can improve our diet together. She´s keen on it.

Until when is it going to be my house my rules?

We were having dinner. She said she wanted another tomato, she got up and went to the fridge. When she opened it, she saw this yogurt and cheered with happiness. I barked something about her not having any, because of dinner first and no more liquids before bedtime.

She closed the fridge and sat on a carpet. She sais she wasn´t going to eat anything anymore. She looked very upset. I screwed her meal time.

I felt bad, but even worse for thinking about the so many times I controlled her visit to the fridge like a fridge-protector police against expected childish reactions.

Parents often are like an evil police against our children´s wills and most natural desires. If we look more closely to our daily interactions, we can catch ourselves doing it and hopefuly stop it.

The next night, when she opened the fridge and saw the the yogurt, she contained herself. She said; ¨Oh oh, there´s something here that I want but can´t have¨.

I said: ¨It´s ok if you want to have it. You are talking about the yogurt, rigth? I´m sorry for making you feel bad yesterday when you wanted it. I´ll stop controling everything you eat.¨

I realized with some days that she keeps asking me if she can eat this or that, and often I wonder: ¨Why is she asking me that, of course she can eat that.¨

Then I realized that what has been going on is that she asks for permission to eat. I trained her this way. Maybe it´s not as bad as it sounds now, but as little as this oppression has been happening, it´s way passed time to stop it.

I´m stopping it.

TV-Screen Watching – Same as eating sweets

No matter how much I´d love Luísa not to watch TV, or any screen (in our house I call TV the computer with internet connection and DVDs), she likes it.

This is something that was bothering me about being back to Brazil. Most of our friends in Costa Rica didn´t have TVs, so she was way less exposed there. Here, she watches a lot more at our friend´s houses and this makes her want to watch it more at our home too.

But if I make it scarce, I help her crave more for it. Here is an article talking about how ¨restricting tv-watching time causes children to become extremely strongly attracted to it and to value tv-watching above other, nonrestricted, activities¨

So, anytime she asks for it, I let her watch it. If I want to get her out of it, I come up with something cooler to do outside the house and it works out.

Even if you are a liberal parent, or permissive, chances are that in the eyes of your child, you can be pretty hard core mean too.

How many things, details, can you watch and let go of control?

For me, right now, is letting her eat sweets and watch more TV. I still want to control these things, damn, but I think more on invitations to do better stuff, like baking our own cookies and selecting movies I like to watch 100 times as well.

Here is another good article to help you let go of control: How to let go of hyperparenting and learn to relax with your kids.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Kelly July 11, 2012 at 3:25 am

Thanks for this, so timely (for me) and sensible. I am at this time trying to limit both of these aspect of my son’s life and finding that he is really receptive to enjoying alternative activities and foods. However, it is definitely a struggle (especially the tv part, sweets not so much) so relaxing and making it more about him is a very cool reminder. I especially love your line ‘I come up with something cooler to do outside the house and it works out.’ Making it seamless. Thanks!

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