I have a 6 year-old daughter who is rotten to the core. Still, I love her and want her to have all that a child her age longs for – toys, candy, unlimited play time, etc. However, because I am her parent and not her friend, I understand that there needs to be limitations, and that you have to earn the good things in life since nothing will be handed to you. And since I do my darnedest to live a healthy life, the limitations can sometimes seem way too harsh to a little girl, hell, even to some of my in-laws.
- No sweets before lunch.
- Only one sweet per day (this mainly applies to after Halloween, Valentine’s Day, and Easter, since those are the only times when there is an abundance of candy in the house).
- No soda. Ever. (Unless we are on vacation.)
- No gum. Ever.
- You must eat at least the vegetables and protein I put on your plate.
- Only 1 hour of TV or video games per day.
- At least 1 hour of active play per day (she gets this at afterschool).
- You must participate in some form of organized sport (usually soccer or swimming).
Trust me, this is all easier said than done. The people around me all have their own rules (mainly, everything goes). However, when they know the limitations I have on my child, they generally respect my wishes when caring for her. But some put up a fight.
I just wish someone would explain this all to my husband. On Sunday, before breakfast, he gave the child a cookie. *POW* That’s the sound of me punching him in the face. Ok. Not really. But you get my drift.
The point to all of this is that it is okay to have rules. Sure, we all want to spoil our children to make them happy, or to simply stop the crying. But at some point we have to stop trying to get them to LIKE us and get them to RESPECT us and themselves. We have to teach that having rules is a good thing, no matter what those rules might be.
My daughter understands that most of the limits we have in place are for her own safety and health. Does she like them? No? But at least she understands them. At the tender age of 6 she already knows that diabetes and heart disease can kill and can be prevented with a few healthy lifestyle habits. She knows I just want her to live a long, healthy, and happy life and that the sugar she wants so badly now may affect that later on. So she just whines and pouts. But in the end, I win.
And for me, that battle is always worth it. I’ve learned that sometimes it’s okay to say “NO”. Now if I could just teach others to embrace it.