I am a firm believer in modeling for my kids. The behaviors my kids see at home are more important than what I tell them. They see, they learn, they do. You can tell your child to go out and play because it’s good for them. But if all they see is you sitting in front of the television or computer, that’s what they’re going to want to do.
If I didn’t fully believe in this earlier in my parenting career, it is very clear watching my children interact with each other. Both Sammy and Ella use the same baby talk, with the same intonation, and the same words, that I use when playing with Penny. Samantha has my angry down pat. She’ll be kind but firm, asking Ella to stop something or do something, then lose it and yell at her (not a good example of positive modeling, but she definitely learned it from me). They both say please and thank you appropriately, not because I’m always harping on them to do so, but because Sean and I use those words always.
It’s kind of cute to see them mimicking my behaviors and recognizing myself in them. I really do try to be aware that they are little sponges, soaking up my mannerisms. So, it is with food as well. I want them to eat healthy, so I eat healthy. They get very little junk food. They rarely get juice because I don’t like the added sugar. When we’re out, say at a birthday party, I let them go crazy (within reason), but at home, they eat pretty healthy. They don’t get dessert or sugar filled snacks. They tend to have fruit, cheese, and crackers instead. And that’s what they see me eat. My hope is they’ll learn healthy eating habits as children and carry that into adulthood.
The problem is, I don’t always want to eat healthy. Sometimes I want Rocky Road ice cream, or chocolate, or more chocolate, or one of those snack packs of crackers and fake cheese, but usually chocolate.
So, I have become a closet eater. I eat junk food after they go to bed. Or I sneak into the kitchen when they’re watching television and grab a cookie (or three). Or I come inside when they’re playing outside and have some cheese and crackers. I usually pretend I’m going to do something else, like have a drink of water (a healthy behavior I’d like them to pick up), and I do that, but then I grab something not so healthy.
Samantha has been catching me lately. She walks in the kitchen and I have something in my mouth. I used to be able to quickly turn and swallow the evidence, but she realizes I’m eating something now. And she wants some. It doesn’t matter what it is, she wants it. So now I have a problem. If I don’t give it to her, she’ll throw a fit, letting Ella in on the secret, and then I’ll have two kids throwing fits. So I give her a bite. It’s becoming a problem. She’s learning to sneak food, which is definitely not a healthy eating habit.
So I guess I’ll have to stop closet eating during the day and just get my junk food fix after they’re asleep. Or I’ll have to find a better place to do it. Anyone else closet eat around their kids? Any good suggestions of places to hide my naughty habit?
Note: We’re going on a little vacation starting tomorrow! I have some posts I’ve scheduled, but I won’t be checking for a few days. So if you leave a comment, I promise I’m not ignoring you and I will get back to you, it just might be a few days. And while I’m away, why don’t you sign up for my book giveaway here (well, it’s not my book, it’s a book, and it’s free to one lucky commenter!)?