I am very mindful of the influence I have on my children, how they see life and how they respond to what happens around them. Rewarding children with sugary treats, even when these are clearly known as "sometimes food" serves only to teach them that these types of foods = pleasure.
Good work = food treat, Helping Mum = food treat, Going to a party = food treat, Stop behaving badly = food treat.
I try always to reward with praise and attention, in special circumstances a gift. And then I can get sneaky by giving a gift that will further inspire them to get up and move, be creative or prompt their curiosity. But even with all my hard work, my kids would probably still choose a sweet treat over a puzzle if they had the choice!
It is no surprise then that a study has found a link between emotional feeding and emotional eating. This article is from the Daily Mail in the UK;
Study warns 'emotional FEEDING' fuels teenagers to binge away negative feelings
Kids whose parents 'emotionally feed' them are likely to continue the pattern.
Reversely, parents with children who are easily soothed by food encourage the behavior.
Emotional eating can lead to eating disorders such as bulimia and binge-eating. Experts say it is important for parents to model a healthy relationship with food.
Many of us have memories growing up of food being shoved in front of us by our mothers and grandmothers. No matter what was bothering you, the cure would be to 'just eat something'. But a new study warns that this experience is the trigger for most people who, later in life, binge away negative feelings.
Scientists say that kids whose parents fed them more to soothe their emotions were more likely to be 'emotional eaters' later on life. Reversely, parents with children who are easily soothed by food are likely to then encourage the behavior. The researchers add that this is the first time the issue of emotional eating has been studied in school-age children.
Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology examined emotional feeding and eating in a group of 801 Norwegian four year olds.
The issues were looked at again at ages six, eight, and 10 to determine whether the parents (mostly mothers) shaped their children's later behavior.
Approximately 65 percent of the children displayed some emotional eating.
These parents either offered food to their kids to make them feel better when upset or had children who were easily soothed by food.
Parents were asked to complete questionnaires describing their children's emotional eating and temperament (how easily they became upset or how well they control emotions), in addition to their emotional feedings.
Results showed that children whose parents offered them food at ages four and six tended to emotionally eat at ages eight and 10. Additionally, parents whose children were more easily comforted with food were more likely to offer them food to soothe them.
Thus, emotional feeding increased emotional eating and vice versa.
'Understanding where emotional eating comes from is important because such behavior can increase the risk for being overweight and developing eating disorders,' said lead author, Dr Silje Steinsbekk, associate professor of psychology at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
'If we can find out what influences the development of emotional eating in young children, parents can be given helpful advice about how to prevent it.'