This is always an interesting topic because people can be very defensive when it comes to their kids. Thankfully, I've always had a network of parents around myself and my husband who were willing to make sure we all knew what our kids were up to. As much as they all could anyway.
I was shopping for groceries this morning and kept continually hearing children screeching. Not just making a little noise mind you... screeching! If this happened only on rare occasions it wouldn't be such an issue, but it happens almost every time we shop.
I love children so I try to be very sensitive to what's going on with them. Having already raised our two, we more than know the challenges that come with being a parent. It's a tough job and not for the faint of heart. There is no manual and each child is different. We made our share of mistakes along the way but we kept working at it and we put parenting first.
So ultimately what happens is the cart of kids (or cart being followed by kids) comes around the corner and you get to observe. Sometimes parents are already aware that their children are not behaving properly and you can see their discomfort. But too many times parents are oblivious. That was my experience today. (As well as many other days)
I watched to see if something in particular was going on. There were two children in the cart and the parent was completely ignoring them. No matter what they did there was no attention or correction given. Child psychologists say you have the first five years to establish discipline and expectations with your kids. If you allow the "oh they're just kids" mentality to go on for too long, you've missed the time frame to teach...and that's what we are...Teachers.
In my own personal experience I can say that parenting is hard work. It takes consistency and diligence. You have to be more persistent that your child. And as they hit their upper teen years it gets harder because they become more persistent. I find that many parents stop parenting by the time their kids hit 16 years of age. This is sad because that's when they need you most. But it's hard and it takes intentional effort and I honestly think most parents just aren't up for it. Far too often we give in and once we do that the child knows exactly how far to push in order to get their way. Ever heard a parent threaten discipline if the child doesn't stop misbehaving, only to watch the child continue and the parent do nothing? Who won that battle? This lack of parenting has led us to where young adults are today, and if we don't correct it, we're going to see a very irresponsible group of adults coming up.
On another note, I also have wondered what other reasons there might be as to why children seem to be out of control so often in the stores. They run around, racing around corners screaming, and get out of sight of their parent(s). We were instructed by a wonderful friend when our kids were very young to teach them something called indoor and outdoor voice. It was a great teaching tool and probably saved some of my sanity. When our child became too loud inside, we would simply demonstrate and have them repeat an indoor level voice. Then we would remind them that when we go outside for playtime, we can use our outdoor voice, BUT we never scream or screech unless we're hurt or in danger. It took some repetition but they got it. When we went to the store they knew to use their indoor voices. They behaved, stayed in the seat of the cart or walked alongside with one hand on the cart. They knew if they misbehaved that they would be removed to the car for discipline, and might not be able to come the next time.
But one other observation I've made has to do with what we feed our children. As a certified Health Coach I've become much more aware of what we put in our bodies and how it impacts us. Not just in our weight, but in our ability to have a sharp mind and to not be wired. More and more products have found their way to our store shelves which are not even real food. And much of the prepackaged stuff is full of junk that isn't any good for you. Our kids (let alone ourselves) are not getting the nutrition we really need to thrive in life.
The main culprit is sugar. Start actively looking at how much sugar, fructose corn syrup, and other sweeteners are put in the foods you buy. If it's more than 6 grams, it's too high. Now try to shop! Look what we put in our carts....potato chips, cookies, soda, pop tarts, cereal, frozen dinners.... shall I keep going? None of that has any good nutrition in it and they are all full of sugar or convert to sugar. Gatorade....full of sugar.
We just might be sugaring our kids into their outbursts. We might be sugaring our kids into not being able to sit still in school and focus. The list can go on and on. Part of what I do as a coach is help people get over food addiction, (yes it's a thing and we all have it) get to their healthy weight if they need that, and establish healthy habits in their life so they can have a sharper mind, better sleep, more fun being active and involved with their family, and living a quality of life. We only get one life... we can be smarter than the marketing industry, and we can be better at parenting our children.
I'm hoping, as a result of this blog, even just a few people will choose to invest in their kids and actually parent and look at how they educate their kids about food. Since it's not taught in school anymore, this generation knows nothing about how to fuel the body for the best results and health. We now live in an obesigenic society with related illness on the rise. We CAN change it!
So let's teach our children to use an indoor and outdoor voice. And let's educate ourselves and our families about sugar, food addiction, and how we can create better health and life for ourselves. What are your thoughts?
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