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Is it okay for grandma to spoil your child with too much sweets?

Posted on Jun 12, 2009 by Maggie LaBarbera

Grandparents, they are so loving to their grandkids. But what do you do if the grandparent is teaching your kids unhealthy habits? I was at a graduation party last weekend and noticed a grandparent feeding her grandchild the following:

  • chocolate chip cookies - 5 different times!
  • cake - 2 peices (he quickly ate the first piece and then they asked for a second piece for him)
  • 2 servings of ice cream
  • a glass of soda
  • who knows what other goodies they also fed him
What I did not see, was the 3 year old eat a plate of food at the barbecue. I know it is a party and some might argue that this would be the "once in a while" rule. But this amount of sweets is excessive and well beyond the intent of the "once in a while" rule. And what message is really being taught here?

So where was mom and dad? Dad was busy visiting and enjoying himself. I looked over at the mom and she seemed torn if she would intervene in or not. She obviously chose not to intervene or the child would not have been given more and then more sugar.

Grandparents are known for spoiling their grandchildren. In fact, it seems many would say it is their right as a grandparent! But can a grandparent's spoiling go a bit too far.

So let's think about what was taught to the child that day (because everyday is a learning day for kids; everyday is a day where kids are watching, doing and forming habits):

  • it's a party- so time to eat sweets
  • it's a party- so its okay to eat excessive amounts of sweets
  • it's a party- so I don't have to eat anything but sweets
  • whatever I ask for, I get
  • mommy doesn't say no when grandma is around
Wow, this child was busy learning quite a bit of new habits and behaviors.

What do you think will happen when they go home? What do you think will happen when this child goes to the next party? What do you think will happen when the child is 6 years old, 9 years old or even 12 years old at parties?

Parties really represent a great time to teach kids some great habits. This child could have been taught a lot of valuables lessons:

  • to choose between a cookie and a piece of cakecake
  • what are once in a while treats
  • how to limit treats
  • portion control
  • balancing healthy foods with once in a while treats
  • eating healthy is still important at a party
So many missed learning opportunities for this child. I am not a psychologist, so you have to check with Dr Phil on how best to deal with grandma but I do think it is important to realize that everyday is an important learning day for young kids. There are no "days off." Your child is forming habits every day through every experience.




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