I am my own worst enemy…I booby trapped myself.
Booby trap is defined in the Webster dictionary as “any scheme or device for tricking a person unawares.” I spoke about this in a blog related to my frustration to the booby traps related to food. I spent most of the blog blaming others for the junk food booby trapping…like grocery stores (putting candy in the checkout line, healthy food at the entry), food companies (marketing things as healthy that really aren’t), and even the poor children’s sports leagues (providing junk food at games).
One day, I realized that those aren’t booby traps anymore because I am no longer “unawares.” And hopefully you aren’t either!
And then I booby trapped myself! How could that be?
Let me explain…
I have been open about my trouble with sugar and chocolate. I really have kept it mostly in check over the years by eating whole foods. And I have put the “sugar snob” on my list of healthy behaviors. Meaning, I only eat the most quality chocolate so I don’t eat too much. However, my desires to be sure my kids don’t feel deprived by providing them special sweet treats every now and again started to get out of control.
I bought my special Enjoy Life Brand chocolate chips because they don’t have dairy, soy or other chemical additives and only 5 g of sugar……SAFE….See, I bought them for the kids….and then maybe I didn’t….I started hiding them from the kids so they wouldn’t be bugging me for them every day. And it turns out I would sneak them when no one was watching for a “hit.”
I really wasn’t trying to demonize them for anyone, but the reality is if I couldn’t control myself with them, then how could the kids control themselves around them? Sugar is addictive as are all refined carbohydrates especially gluten containing items.
I realized, that it wasn’t that I couldn’t enjoy the sweet treat occasionally, but it quickly turned into a habit. It just can’t be in my house. What’s funny is the only person to blame for this is…ME. I bought them! It’s not about perfection but about acknowledging the problem and understanding the booby traps…now I see this one. It’s time to say good-bye again to refined sugar inside my home. I can do that.
I have a few other examples of where I have booby trapped myself and watch others booby trap themselves too.
I took my daughter to the grocery store. She wanted a specific bow for her hair. When we didn’t find what we were looking for, she threw a mini tantrum. Normally, I don’t fall for it, but this time I did. I just didn’t want to fight the battle (I was tired and a little more sad than usual because of the excessive sugar intake over the past few weeks….). So I gave in to buying her some other hair ties that were more expensive. I fell into it. No harm done, and really I am not beating myself up. But it was another booby trap self-inflicted. I should have held strong and walked away. I rewarded her behavior and really I just wanted to get out of the store. And that is what I will do next time. I will tell her, “No thank you for that behavior. Now it’s time to buy our groceries.”
Another one is related to the recent public school district’s policy on treats in the schools. You can see the approved list here. The real issue for me is that it’s not the policy that is the booby trap because they are trying to move in the right direction, it’s the response of the PARENTS. They are angry they can’t bring cupcakes and junk food to celebrate birthdays and accomplishments and just about any holiday. They are upset that the school lunch hasn’t changed also.
The first issue is that junk food in any form has no place in school. School is a place for learning. Celebrating birthdays and holidays really should be family affairs. But if you must bring it to school, then bring….wait for it……FRUIT! It’s sweet and delicious and avoids most allergies so ALL kids can enjoy! You can make fruit kabobs on your own or order from Edible Arrangements. Really, who can argue with this? Sounds like a win-win. Why are we booby trapping ourselves by getting angry about this new policy? The real solution is changing our parenting behavior regardless of the policy. And maybe, just maybe the most special celebration for such holidays should be in the privacy of our own home with a huge hug and an “I love you” to our own child on Valentine’s day. The time spent gathering all the valentines to take to school could be spent bonding over making dinner or lunch for our own family celebration.
If your child needs a food or reward related celebration to complete a project or assignment then we need to look more closely at why. In our efforts to motivate we are likely booby trapping our children…again. A book Drive, written by Daniel H Pink, discusses how to truly motivate and inspire creativity at work, at school and at home is autonomy, mastery and purpose….NOT reward systems. For sure celebration is in order, but food and bribery don’t have a place if we really want to inspire our kids to learn and create. Again, fighting for pizza party celebrations at school is a booby trap. Celebrate with an extra recess.....OUTSIDE!
If you want to argue about the food available for school lunch….there is a solution to that too. Why rely on someone else to feed your child? Why not teach your child how to pack his/her own lunch from home? It’s an important life skill. When I was trying to send my children to Montessori for a “better developmental” education, someone told me, “Shouldn’t you be teaching them life skills?” I want school to reinforce positive life skills, but really, I send my kids to school to learn Math, History, Social Studies, test taking and social skills. I don’t send them to school to be fed by another person or school system. Fighting for better school policies is a booby trap…let’s fight for teaching kids how to cook again. Maybe we could even make their lunch at home, and donate that lunch money to a school program to support having WHOLE foods available for lunch instead of pizza. If we stop spending money on school lunch, and donate it to a school program to teach kids to cook, the big food company will take notice. We are already seeing big shifts with big food companies purchasing well known healthy branded companies known for their quality of product (for example Epic Bar an ethically sourced whole-foods protein bar was bought by General Mills). But for now, it is still my job to teach my children life skills, which includes making lunch, dinner and breakfast and making good choices when unhealthy choices are available. Why? Because that's real life.
Parents, we are booby trapping ourselves with this anger at school policies. The system is corrupted because it is dependent on money from people who want to control things. Take that control away by making a better choice! Really, we want our kids to be able to make good choices so we need to teach them how to make good choices…even at school. Fighting against policies that are actually moving in the right direction is booby trapping the system and your children.
If we want our kids to make healthy choices in their life, then we need to demonstrate how to do that. That includes learning to celebrate without sweets. That includes learning to say no thank you and redirect to stay on task, not bribery. That includes learning how to wash and cut a carrot to take for school lunch. Let’s celebrate the small victory rather than demonize how it isn’t perfect.
Slow progress is still progress.
I am not perfect, I have booby trapped myself. I will do better next time. I can’t expect others to be perfect, including the public schools, but I can celebrate movement in the right direction.
Remove. Replace. Restore.
Remove booby traps…even self inflicted ones. Demonizing imperfect policies.
Replace with proactive behavior that actually addresses the problem. You want your kids to eat healthy and have holistic wellness, then demonstrate how to do that by eating whole nutrient rich foods, get regular exercise together, get adequate rest to soar. These are simple solutions to modern day problems to sustain holistic health…even in school. Check yourself when you demonize someone else and even policies, you may be deflecting your own inadequacies. Empower your family by teaching life skills.
Restore holistic health and wellness and even self-reliance.
Eat Well. Move Well. Sleep Well. Soar On.
Dr Carolyn Dolan DPT, Cert MDT, MSHN
Where physical therapy, nutrition and lifestyle meet, because how you live your life determines whether or not you soar. Inspiring action with information so you can reduce pain, optimize healing and improve function naturally during recovery from injury, surgery or painful condition. This is a website for the open-minded; obstinate need not apply.