D.J. asks from Mount Airy, MD on July 13, 2009
Controlling Candy and Junk Food from the Neighbors
One particular neighbor's kids always have junk food... their child who is only 6 months older than my son just had 4 teeth pulled and 4 others in front that were almost pulled, but they decided to save them.
They still do not have a clue. Their kids always eat junk food for snacks. And they have been trying to offer it to my son behind my back now, so I am trying to stay away from them. (I really need to find a good play group for my son.)
But in the long run, once my son is old enough to visit his friends without my supervision... How do you instill in them that treats are treats, and we need to eat our dinners first, and treats are only a small part of what we eat?
I ate junk food away from home when I was a kid, but it was in spurts. (I lived in the country, and I use to pick up bottles construction workers threw away at houses, clean them up and buy my
candy with the money I got for returning those.) I never had neighbor
kids offering me as much junk on a daily basis as the kids in my
Do any of you have problems with this?
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L.P. answers from Washington DC on July 14, 2009
Anyone who offers your child something "behind your back" should not be the grownup in charge of your kids. At worst, they cannot be trusted. At best, they are not respecting your boundaries. So, don't let your son go over there. Have the playdates at your house only. Continue to teach your son about moderation.
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L.R. answers from Washington DC on July 14, 2009
Please heed the folks who are saying it's time to find other playmates whose parents respect your boundaries. You have set clear boundaries, haven't you? If you haven't clearly told them that they must not feed your child this food while he's there, you should have; that's your end o the bargain. But if you have and they persist in doing it, time to say goodbye. If they're so clueless and careless that their kid is losing teeth to sugar at this young age, what else don't they understand about limits? If they're giving your child junk food you have clearly banned, what else do they let their kids, and yours when he plays there, have and do and get up to? They may also have the attitude that "Oh, it's nice for kids to have a treat, he doesn't get treats at home, poor boy," which I know from experience some people really believe. That's not their call. They may be nice otherwise, and your son may just love their kids right now, but believe me, he'll love new friends quickly too.
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P.G. answers from Washington DC on July 14, 2009
This is more than a matter of junk food. First, the neighbors and their children eat differently than you do and clearly can not, or will not, respect your attitude towards "junk food." You will hve to decide if this is really detrimental to your son and whether he is well-supervised in any other regard while playing there. But in fact, junk food is not the reason the teeth of his playmate(s) are decayed to the point of needing extraction, and especially in a 3.5 year old---rather, no one is maintaining the oral health and maintenance of those teeth! If you or your child merely brushes their teeth twice a day (and three preferred), uses floridated toothpaste and water, there is little other reason for such decay than simple lack of appropriate care. It would not matter if you ate nothing but oreos all day if you brushed correctly and consistently....good luck with the other matters.
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C.D. answers from Washington DC on July 14, 2009
You could have the playdates at your house. That way, you control the junk food. I would also begin talking to your son about healthy food before junk food. In my house, junk food isn't "bad" but first, we eat healthy and eat junk food in moderation. We talk about moderation and balance in the diet. I began all of this when my now 14 year old was 3.5/4 years old. My kids love junk food like any other kids but they are pretty good about eating healthy and having junk food in moderation. It is never too early to begin showing/talking about healthy foods v. junk food. I would not allow my child to play there without trying to talk to your neighbor about your concerns first. Good luck.
S.T. answers from Washington DC on July 14, 2009
My husband and I have been teased for our motto-Just Say No To Kiddy Crack! Our son is allowed to have a piece of candy at a birthday party and the rest of the goody bags get thrown away. We do festivals for Halloween instead of trick or treating and instill a lifestyle that speaks in actions and not always words. We exercise eat right and give ourselves the right to have an occasional treat. We talk to our son about the affects of candy on our bodies if eaten all the time. You are also the parent and opn communication is important-while you feel strongly about the way someone else is raising their child, it is less important to lay that opinion on your child. In otherwords, what little Johnny does with his family is one thing but if your child is eating to much junk with the johnny do to the sneakiness of Johnny's parents, then your son doesn't need to play at Johnny's. Good luck-I hope this made sense-just had a baby and barely any slep. Wanted to show my support though.
K.N. answers from Norfolk on July 14, 2009
I would just let your neighbors know that you do not want your kids to be fed junk food. If they cannot respect that, I would not allow my children to play with them anymore. It can be tough but we have some "shady" neighbors and though I feel bad because I blame the parents and not the kids, I do not let my son play with them. They are older than my son but when he sees them he wants to play with them but I refuse to let him, no matter how hard this is. As for your child growing up with his own opinions, there is only so much you can do. Encourage good eating habits and dental care and pray for the best-he may surprise you!
S.M. answers from Washington DC on July 14, 2009
Mostly, I think that your son needs to not play independently at their house. Personally, I don't think he IS old enough at three (if I read correctly). But clearly, if he can't follow the eating rules you set for him, then he can't go there. That's not really his fault, i's just a lot of pressure for him to turn down a yummy snack offered by a friend. He is too young to make good choices on his own. Food is one, but there are others. If the parents are that lazy with their own kids, there are probably a lot more hazards at their home then you want your son exposed to (it could be merely poor supervison to a loaded gun in a closet). My five year old is just strating to play at friends' houses without me. Even if we agree that we have different parentling styules in that regard, this particular house doesn't sound like a good home for you little boy to be in unsupervised.
But if he keeps playing there, you could try talking to the mom and dad honestly. If that makes you uncomfortable, then you could say that he is coming home sick and has a sensitive stomach or reacts badly to preservatives or whatever. Have him bring snack over - fruit and cheese and a water bottle. At three, I was still bringink snacks to my daughter's playdates, so it doesn't seem out of line.
I think it is great that you care about this. Once in a while junk, you kind of have to deal with, I guess, but if it is a regular thing, then you certainly have to teach your son that you have certain expectaitons for his health and his behavior and you expect him to make good choices. You need to teach him this stuff, since you are trying to teach him to survive in a world full of choices. So if he keeps playing there, give him strategies to make the right decisions. And if tha tmeans telling him to come home at snack time, do that too. Good luck.
S.H. answers from Richmond on July 14, 2009
I would tell the neighbors your son is on a "restricted diet" and can not have sugar or caffeine or whatever it is they are giving him. They will probably assume that he has some sort of medical problem or food allergy and you are technically telling the truth - he is "restricted" from junk! Maybe the thought of making a child ill will stop them.