Thursday, March 23, 2006

Dumbing our kids down by banning sugar from the cupboard

It's that time of year again.You know which one I'm talking about. Children everywhere are growing obese in alarming numbers. What are we to do? Should government come up with an emergency plan. I can hear it now. Threat level is cupcake alert. Government stepping in is a bad idea in itself and is better left a subject for another article. Preventing kids from having sweets and junk food all together is the solution that has been catching my eye of recent. A war on junk food where the first casualty will be our kids' minds.

When we hide all the snacks or prevent our kids from having any sugary snacks at all, we take away our children's opportunity to use their mind.
Self-responsibility is born out of making decisions. A child must
learn the fundamental principles of making a good decision in order
to survive and prosper in life. It is our job to guide and educate
our children in those principles. This would require that we give
them as many opportunities to make decisions as possible.

As parents, we default on our responsibilities when we do not take every
opportunity to help our kid think for themselves. Banning sweets from
the cupboard and school vending machines is an example of dropping
the parent's responsibility ball. We have to give facts to why we are
preventing them from doing something. Often is the case, that the
parents have not checked the facts themselves and can not back up
their decision. If we do not give an explanation when we prevent the
child from doing something, this leaves the child with two
decisions. Do I continue to ask questions so that I can figure out
why my parent has made that decision, or do I just accept my
parent's authority and let them do the thinking for me. No
matter what we do , the child always has one basic choice. This
is to think for themselves and try to figure out the answers to their
questions or to submit to the parents answer of "Do it because I
say so!" A child that submits to his parents, when they
have not given him real answers, begins to think for themselves
less and less. The child grows to be dependent on his parents for
guidance instead of learning to think for himself. As an adult,
he is unsure of himself and has low self-esteem. When he runs into a
situation that his parents did not give an answer to, he is totally
lost and immobilized. Furthermore, the commands of the parents may
have been irrational. So he would follow irrational guidance in a
situation that could be detrimental in his life. Let's say that his
parents are racist and he never questions their views. In adult life
he may act out on that racism and beat someone up or seriously get
hurt while attacking someone.

Our children will prosper the more we give them the responsibility to think.
The principles we need to guide them on is using Reason and Logic. They
need to keep things in context by checking all the facts in the
situation. Then they need to determine based on those facts, what
actions and choices would be best in that given situation. This is
why we need to sit down with them and teach them the
facts that too much sweets can make them overweight, have cavities,
and bad health. However, in teaching them the facts, they would also
learn that balancing their meal would allow them to have sweets,
without leading to the destructive outcomes of over eating those
sugary snacks. This process of learning to check the facts of a
situation, and evaluate the costs and benefits of each decision, will
give them tools to combat any situation that life throws at them. I
say let them eat sweets, but make sure you are taking the parent's
responsibility to show them how to apply their minds to the world
around them.

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