Sweets & Treats
Joey and Carla Link
October 30, 2019
This is the time of year where kids’ get more sweets and treats than they normally do. The question is, what do they do with this freedom? If they are younger, do they know how to manage their behavior when they get some extra sweets like candy orcupcakes? If they are in the pre-teen/teen years, have they learned how to say no to another piece because their body has had enough?
The first time we took our kids to a high school homecoming parade we were surprised and caught off guard at all the candy that was being thrown from the floats and at all the kids running into the street with grocery bags to fill up. Of course our kids wanted some. We told them they could pick up what was thrown to them but they couldn’t run in the street to get it. For kids to learn the ability of how much is enough when their sweet tooth is craving more is a great opportunity to teach them self-control. A chaperone for one of the floats noticed our kids and she came to them and gave them each a large handful. What a reward for their self-control!
Self-control is a root character trait that shows up in many ways in kids’ lives. When kids are toddlers and preschoolers you are their self-control mechanism by monitoring how much food they can have and how much they need to have of different food groups.
As they grow, parents move from putting food on their kids plates to letting them serve themselves. This is another training opportunity to watch and see if your kids have the self-control to eat what they don’t like because it’s good for them, or will they skip the vegetables, or take a very small amount so they can have more of the foods they like. I am using food as an example because of the epidemic of overweight children – 13.5 million kids in the United States in 2018. (US Center for Disease Control)
Teaching kid’s self-control is second to obedience training when it comes to training your children to build a solid foundation of core values.
How well are your kids developing self-control? Here are a few questions for parents to evaluate
- Can they walk in the house vs. running?
- Do they put their backpacks and coats away when they walk in the house?
- Do they take their dishes to the kitchen sink after eating?
- Can they lose at a game and be a good sport about it?
- Can they speak kindly and nicely to someone who is in a bad mood?
- Do they pick up their toys when they are done playing with them without you telling them to?
When kids are given the freedom of having or using a cell phone, for the most part they are responsible enough to remember where they put it when they set it down and to keep it charged. Why? They keep track of them because it’s important to them. In the same way, teaching kids the self-control necessary to have consistency in being respectful in their attitude and actions towards others should be a goal in training your kids “in the way they need to go” (Proverbs 22:6).
How well are you doing?
- We encourage you as parents to observe your kids in the next few days and make a written list of things and areas your kids do and do not show responsibility, respect and/or self-control in.
- Together with your spouse, choose the most irritating one on that list and decide how you are going to work on it, including what correction you would give. Have a talk with each child about the one you want them to work on and ask them (6 yrs. and up) to come up with one way they can work on it that week.
- Be prepared to follow through with a related consequence if they don’t work on their self-control in their assigned area. For instance, we had a child that had a favorite shirt, but could never get that shirt or his other dirty clothes in the laundry basket. We took the shirt away until we could see self-control in other areas. Remember, when you take something away they have to earn the right to have it back.
- Give some grace when you start. Be willing to remind them for the first few times you see they could have used what they came up with to work on it. Just as it takes us a few mistakes to change a bad habit, the older your child is and the more ingrained the habit, the longer it will take to change it. If you don’t give them a consequence after a few reminders it will never become important enough to them to do it as a habit.
A good Bible verse for them to memorize is I Corinthians 10:31.
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
Encourage them to write it out and put it somewhere where they can see it throughout their day to remember all that they do is for God’s glory.