Tuesday, May 28th, 2013
Supermodel Heidi Klum is getting flak for paying her kids $1 a day to drink a smoothie. I wonder if all the people who are freaking out have young kids? My guess is that their kids are either grown and they don’t remember what it was like, or they never had any. Because unless you have a kid who is a bump on a log, most people have to bribe in some way or another. Except we don’t call it bribing. We call it realistic parenting. And frankly I’d prefer to pay a dollar, or in my case, tell Fia she can have dessert after her dinner (since she doesn’t understand the concept of money) than not have her eat properly. I’d also rather bribe her with a small treat than the Ipad. Seems like too many parents may be using that as a crutch…but that is for another post.
The other day I was at a birthday party for one of Fia’s friends. A pregnant woman was there too. On the table was a huge birthday cake and then a platter of healthy sandwiches. As Fia ooh-ed and aah-ed over the cake, along with the other 3 1/2 year olds, I said half-joking:
“Hmm, I wonder what she will eat first?”
The pregnant woman piped up and said, “Healthy should always come first.”
I nearly shot her.
Come on. Talk to me when your kid is 3 and in this situation. I would bet my entire life savings that your kid won’t eat the avocado and sprout sandwich first. And I bet that superior attitude of yours will go out the window. Why? Because we were the same way. Until we had kids.
So yes, Fia ate cake for dinner. Followed by a small sandwich. And she survived.
I regularly use bribes. For awhile I gave her a treat after her gymnastics class for participating. A hershey kiss. Not a large milkshake. Or a box of cookies. Just one teeny tiny piece of chocolate. Two classes was all it took to get her out of her shell. And the chocolate I gave her? Gone. Both from her bloodstream and her memory. Now she runs happily onto the mat without prompting.
At a restaurant if she misbehaves, I tell her she won’t get dessert until she sits quietly. I rarely bring out my phone as entertainment. I don’t want to start that habit because for some reason those devices seem to embed in a toddler’s memory and they come to expect it. They also seem like the easiest thing to rely on. But that doesn’t necessarily make it the best (do you guys agree with that by the way?).
Just this weekend we gave her $5. We went as a family to explore downtown LA’s Grand Central Market and Little Tokyo. I told her she could buy whatever she wanted–not that she understands what $5 can get. We talked at length in the car about all the options.
“Mama, what about a giant lollipop?” she said.
“Ooohh, I know! Fia, let’s find you one of those swirly ones. The big round ones that have different colors on them!”
Even though she didn’t know exactly what I was talking about, she nearly ripped herself out of her carseat with excitement.
We even discussed what the man or woman selling it might look like.
“Do you think the lady will have brown hair?” Fia asked.
“Hmm, I don’t know. Maybe blue?” And so on went our speculation.
Sure enough, we found the lollipops. The man selling them? Dark hair. Straight. Not blue.
I had her ask him how much it cost. $1.99. He gave her change. She beamed.
I let her lick it for a solid 10 minutes. We still have the lollipop. We are using it in increments. She ate Udon noodles in Little Tokyo knowing she could have a few more licks after. She ate sauteed spinach at dinner. Same reason. Call it a bribe if you want. But I would much rather have my kid eating well and without a fight for a few licks of this or a few coins of that.
I think that in order to parent properly you need to be practical and prudent. You know when to set the limits and how far to go. Sounds to me like Heidi is doing just fine.
P.S. Here’s a short clip of me talking about it on the show The List.
Picture above is Fia at a salon. She just got her hair cut and I was getting mine cut too. To keep her occupied, I relied on a ring lollipop.Add a Comment