Parents as Role Models for Children – Emotional Eating

Have you ever wondered how emotional eating becomes a habit? As parents, we are role models for children, either good or bad and unfortunately, it is usually us who teaches a children the concept of emotional eating.

Remember when your babies were learning to walk. Or when your toddler fell over because they tried to walk or run too fast.

Do you remember seeing a baby trying to walk for the first time? Definitely a case of practice makes perfect. Initially they learn to stand and wobble and then fall down. It is also a time in which tears are common. Sometimes because the child is startled by the fall other times they hurt themselves by hitting body parts on floors or furniture. The child will cry for a few minutes, but soon determination makes them try again and eventually they succeed.

But there is another side to this story. Within seconds of the child falling a parent or other adult will usually reach out and try and comfort the child and this is great. It’s important to comfort the child and reassure them that it everything is okay. But how we comfort them can have far reaching and unforseen effects on the child. Do we simply cuddle them, or do we reach for a treat like a cookie, the pacifier or a bottle of milk.

If our response is the latter then there are lessons the child will learn from this, including:

  • If you feel upset, eating is comforting.
  • It’s NOT okay to show your emotions. Shove something in your mouth to replace those feelings quickly.

If no food was offered then the child could be comforted by the hug from the adult. The pain or fright soon goes away and the crying stops. But instead the child is being taught the concept of comfort eating. Even worse if they were given a sweet treat then they have been given a taste for sugar and that becomes addictive in itself.

Here is another example, this time for an older child. Their room is a mess and we want them to clean it up. So we offer them a candy and a soda if they will clean up. Uh oh… trouble brewing again! The lesson learned… When you work or achieve something, eat a sweet treat to reward yourself!

Unfortunately, unless we later study food and nutrition, then the food lessons we are taught as children are passed on to the next generation. Why? Because we don’t know any better ourselves!

As you can see, we need to consider what food lessons our children learn from our actions:

  • Do we food to bribe our children to do things?
  • Do we use food to comfort our children?
  • Do we use food to encourage children to conceal their feelings?

Learn to understand the lessons your actions teach so you can break the cycle and ensure that your child never relies on emotional eating. Whether you like it or not, as parents you are important role models for children.

source : weightlosstips4kids


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