Comments, Rants, Raves & Musings

The Tot & the Lollipop

There I was, along with some dozen other women (and one lone guy), at a happening manicure parlor on the afternoon of July 4 in the Big City.

An adorable, big-eyed, brown-haired, two-year-old baby girl sits calmly in her baby carriage, enthralled by the people around her, while her mom gets a beauty treatment nearby.

The mother has an idea to soothe her tot: Before leaving her tot behind for five minutes (to go to an ATM so she can pay for her pedicure), she whips out a red lollipop from her bag, unwraps it, slips it into her baby’s mouth, and lovingly coos, "Here, honey, you can have this while I’m gone."

For the next few minutes, I watched enthralled: The smart tot spurns the red sticky candy part of the lollipop, pulls it out of her mouth, flips it around and starts sucking and chewing on the white stick at the end of the candy. She didn’t want the sweet taste!

When the baby’s mother returns, cash in hand, she looks puzzled at her child’s fawning attentiveness to the white stick and complete lack of interest in the red lollipop.

"No, honey, you’re suppposed to eat it the other way," the mystified mom corrects her little girl. The adult then quickly graps the white stick out of child’s mouth and puts the red sucker in instead.

Fascinating! Depressing! Scary!

This kind of scene is being played out all across America, and it’s one I’ve witnessed all too often: A well-meaning, blithely unaware mom or dad sets in motion a sugar habit in her or his child (or children). Incidents such as these, piled one on top of another, year after year, pave the way for a hard-to-undo attraction and attachment to sweets.

Not only that but millions of mothers and fathers alike — well-intentioned, of course — are subtly, subconsciously reinforcing the notion that candy, cookies, and any kind of special family dessert are a way to show love.

The message that afternoon was this: A lollipop = love.

Whenever I’m unwittingly privvy to such scenes, it becomes overly obvious to me that we need to teach parents nationwide that their allegedly loving, here-take-this-candy actions could ultimately harm the health of the children they love.

Please, if you’re a parent, pay attention to the attitude you illustrate towards candy, cookies, cakes, and more.

If you’re hooked on sweets, your kids could grow up overly attached, too. But, on the flip side, if you set a good example by eating healthily, your children will, too.

And, please, don’t just give kids a sweet "treat" just to get them out of your hair or to placate them — that’ s just not the ideal way of showing that you care.

Need some help to kick your sugar habit? Join my free online KickSugar group.

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3 thoughts on “The Tot & the Lollipop

  1. It is sad what we do to our children when we think that sugar, and food in general, is love. But that is the general mindset of not only our nation but the whole world. It will take a lot to change it.

  2. I saw a commercial yesterday, and it made me sick. A little girl is upset about something, and Mom immediately goes to the freezer and brings out some low-fat, (like that’s supposed to make it healthier for you!) sugar-filled mint chocolate chip ice cream and the daughter sees it, her eyes get big, and you can almost see the light bulb go off over her head.
    Mom scoops out the ice cream — one scoop, two, three.. as the daughter embellishes her story in a clear effort to get more ice cream out of Mom. Why is that easier or better than giving her a hug!?
    I am sickened that something like this commercial is out there reinforcing bad eating habits and encouraging horrible interactions with food and the people in our lives. A commercial about soothing one’s emotional or physical pain with food — no matter how “healthy” the food is purported to be — is wrong.
    And even if the food in these commercials didn’t have sugar, it would have chemicals and other harmful properties. You aren’t ever going to see a commercial like this where Mom gives the child a stalk of celery!
    I have worked very hard to avoid having food be anything other than fuel for my daughter. If you aren’t aware of it, food can become a reward, a soother, a bribe, or if you withhold it — it’s a punishment.
    Food, no matter what it is, should never be used as a bargaining chip. I know this is slightly off the topic of your blog entry, but I wouldn’t have noticed the commercial as much if I hadn’t read your entry.
    I can only thank whatever providence had me develop gestational diabetes when I was pregnant with my daughter 5.5 years ago and helped me start a personal journey into learning about sugar and its lack of benefits, its effects and consequences — because now I’m the kind of *smart* Mom who won’t give her kid a cookie when she skins her knee or is teased, or be caught instructing my child in “proper candy-eating procedures.”
    Thanks again for having this blog, Connie, and making us each more aware each day of the world we live in.

  3. You wanna talk scary, my sister reinforced her son’s potty training behaviour by feeding him candy ACKKK! So the kid was addicted to sugar at age 2. Not only that, he associated/es sugar /candy with being rewarded for good behaviour. I think when she had to take him to the dentist for 6 or 7 fillings/cavities at age 6, maybe the light went on to start reversing that.
    But man it makes me cringe, cause you know let them go buy candy when they grow up and can make the choices. Utterly grotesque to use the ‘easy way out’ to placate kids by giving them sugar. Not only that, most kids turn more aggressive and act out with sugar anyway, so it’s not going to help in the short term either.

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