Who hasn’t thought about tricking their kids?
According to one psychology professor at the University of California San Diego, more than 80% of parents lie to their children to try to influence their emotions or behavior.
Parenting by lying. (It’s not my term, the psychology professor coined it.)
I wouldn’t call what most parents do lying. Lying denotes an almost-malicious motive. I am much more comfortable with the term tricking. After all, we’re mostly talking about benign stuff like selling kids on youthful fantasies like the Tooth Fairy. No harm no foul.
A lot of parents trick their kids to avoid a struggle.
That’s the idea behind hiding cauliflower in macaroni and cheese. No fighting. No whining. No gagging.
And that’s the idea behind The Pacifier Fairy, too. You get what you want, what’s best for your child, and your child is none the wiser.
But that’s the problem: Your child is none the wiser. I say, “don’t do it.” Don’t trick your kid to avoid a struggle. Isn’t wiser what you want?
Every time you trick your toddler you miss an opportunity to teach her something.
Should you trick your child into giving up her bottle?
My daughter is going to be 2 in a few weeks and is still very much addicted to the bottle. I didn’t have this problem with my son. My son only had a nighttime bottle and got sick at 18 months. We put Pedialyte in it. He hated it and refused the bottle. That was the end of that. Super easy. I’m thinking of putting something awful tasting in her bottle to see if that works!
I understand the temptation to trick your toddler, Debbie. I’ve got to say, though, that I’m a fan of being upfront with kids. It works best in the long run. It’s also respectful.
It doesn’t seem like giving up a bottle is a teachable moment, but it is.
For your daughter, learning to weigh your reasons for giving up the bottle against her reasons for keeping it is a big deal. In fact, it is such a big deal that I would even say it counts as a life lesson.
I’ve written a lot lately about how to communicate effectively with your kids.
- You’ve got to be talk to your kids about how you want them to eat (or in this case drink). Read Table Talk
- You’ve got to see things from your child’s perspective. Read Eating, Seen Through Your Child’s Eyes.
And that’s what you’ve got to do to help your daughter give up her beloved bottle.
Of course, talking to kids about important stuff like bottles puts parents at a disadvantage.
Parents get the short end of the stick in this type of interaction: You’re talking logic while your toddlers are talking emotions. How do you counter, “But I love it,” or “But I want it,” or an emphatic declaration, “No!”?
The answer is straightforward.
- Lay out your reasons for wanting your daughter to give up her bottle. I’m sure you have some good ones. (But if you don’t, perhaps you should reconsider.)
- Set some limits on drinking from the bottle: only at home, only in the morning and the evening, or only for milk.
- Set a deadline for when the bottles go bye-bye. Or
- Encourage your daughter to pick a deadline to let the bottles go bye-bye. And
- Help your daughter process her emotions.
Don’t underestimate your daughter’s ability to think this thing through.
She can do it.
Giving up the bottle isn’t a big issue to me; nobody ever went to college using one. At least that’s what I told myself when my munchkin was a bottle maniac. But I can understand wanting to wean your daughter.
There’s loads of evidence that children respond to a firm, but flexible environment. Read The Goldilocks Approach.
- Set reasonable boundaries.
- Talk things through.
- Involve your children in the decision-making process.
It’ll teach your daughter some of the skills she’ll need for a lifetime of healthy eating.
~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~