Today I’m going to continue my trend of What’s Mommy’s Job? by sharing with you another mom-hack that has saved me oodles of grief throughout the years.
Now, if you haven’t read my last email, go check it out now. It’s basically Part 1: What’s Mommy’s #1 Job. Spoiler alert: Our #1 job is to keep them safe! It gives you a tool you can use to stop the tears when you have to say the unavoidable “no” if they’re busy trying-out to be the next Wonder-Woman-stunt-double. In fact, asking your child what your #1 job will keep the tears at bay and create a deeper bond between you both while keeping them safe.
Today’s article is also about navigating a topic fraught with uncontrollable emotion – the inevitable fight over sweets.
Now, of course, we do our best not to buy Twinkies in bulk at every CostCo run, but our kids KNOW. Their innate little sugar senses can sniff out a bag of Jelly Bellies from a mile away. Not to mention birthday parties, ice cream trucks, the zoo…We’re being bombarded with opportunities for meltdowns at every turn! HOW DO WE DO IT?
I believe my #2 is TO KEEP MY CHILD HEALTHY. That applies to not buying sweets every time my child requests them. My saying “no” should not be negotiable. If there is room for negotiation in the slightest, they will take every advantage to flip the switch to “demon child” until their desired response is obtained. In these instances, when my daughter would rather have a churro than her healthy lunch I packed, I simply blame the “no” on my “job.” My #2 job again to be precise – TO KEEP ROSE HEALTHY.
Our scenarios typically play out something like this:
Rose: “Mommy…THEY HAVE OREOS!!!!”
Me: “Wow, lucky them. I’m sorry, sweetie, but we haven’t had dinner yet. And besides, what’s my #2 job?”
Rose: “To keep Rose healthy.”
Me: Correct! Oreos aren’t good for your body. My #2 job is to keep your body healthy. My #1 job is to keep you safe.
Rose: “What’s your #3 job Mommy?”
Me: “To keep Rose happy.”
Do you see what I did there?
We’ve set up a prioritization in our household so she already at three years old knows and understands that:
#1 KEEP ROSE SAFE
#2 KEEP ROSE HEALTHY
#3 KEEP ROSE HAPPY
So, it’s not that her happiness isn’t taken into account. However, if her safety or health are in question, those are the most important priorities. Now, you can look at a picture of her and see she’s about the happiest child on the planet, but that’s largely because having a safe and healthy child naturally leads to a happy child. If you skip straight to the Oreos to provide immediate happiness, you’re likely in for a majorly sad child when they sugar crash later on.
This technique works because rather than focusing on the “no,” her brain shifts to answer the question when I ask her what my #2 job is. Knowing that her health is such a high priority for me makes her feel fully loved and protected. Once she answers the question, she knows on a deep level how much I care, and it typically changes her state immediately. It also takes the blame off of the parents for saying “no.” We’re just doing our jobs as parents. There is no choice in the matter.
So, try this out the next time you’re in line at the grocery store. (Now allow me to vent for a second – WHY DO THEY DO THAT TO US?!? You’ve already survived shopping with a child-or two, or more, and when everyone’s hungry and at their wits end, they walk you through the sugar highway to crazy town.)
Anyway, the next time you’re in line and they beg and plead and beat their chests over a $3 bag of sour patch kids, ask them what your #2 job is. Will it be easy for them to hear the answer? No. This is parenting. There’s nothing easy about it. But, will they understand and thank you for protecting their little bodies? No, probably not that either. They’re still young. Still, hopefully, you’ll set up a consistent system of respect and understanding that will last much longer than the sour patch kids…
Keep Raising Extraordinary Kids,