This post could be alternately entitled “How to Teach Kids to Have a Social Filter”. Open Mouth, Insert Foot is quite fitting though. Oh, I have tons of Open Mouth, Insert Foot moments that I wish I could double back and erase. My brain and mouth don’t often work together and aren’t always on the same track. With kids, it’s different though. They’re just learning social etiquette. Little One is proof of this.
Let me first say that I absolutely love that my daughter speaks her mind and makes astute observations. I love that she has no inhibitions and is not jaded…yet. Oh, that will come. I’m sure. The beauty about childhood is that kids are developing their personalities, making observations, learning how to interact with others, and just being their own authentic selves.
[Insert foreboding, cheesy movie music here]
The other day, I took my family out for lunch. It was my cousin, her husband, my other cousin, his wife, their toddler, their infant, Little One and yours truly. We went to a quaint little place with good food. It wasn’t a fancy place, but the food was tasty and not deep fried. Maybe this is TMI, but in the recent years, I haven’t been eating much fried food. 1) I know it’s not good for us, and 2) Ever since I gave up eating fried food, the moment I do cave into a craving, it hits me like a ton of bricks. It feels like I’m having a gall bladder attack or something. Therefore, I avoid fried food.
Where was I? Oh, right. Lunch with the family at a quaint little place with good food. Well, Little One, who normally drinks either water, tea or milk, ordered an apple juice. We’re not big juice drinkers since I’d prefer her to eat the actual fruit and get all the benefits from the fruit instead of having tons of sugar. Anyway, Little One opened up her juice, took a whiff, and said…
Wait for it…
“Mommy, this smells like garbage!”
I wanted to crawl under the table. I was mortified.
My cousin sniffed the juice and said it smelled fine and that it smelled like apple juice.
Little One didn’t drink her juice. There were jokes about her only liking “organic, freshly-squeezed, no sugar added” apple juice. We were laughing, but part of me wondered how to deal with a) her hearing me talk about junk food being “garbage” and b) her not having a seemingly snooty attitude. She’s not a food snob. The kid eats EVERYTHING we feed her. She just doesn’t eat junk food.
The other afternoon, I asked Little One if she’d like a homemade chocolate zucchini brownie (one of her favourites), and instead she asked for broccoli. “Ummm…Could I have broccoli instead, please? Raw broccoli?”
I should be happy and proud, and I am. I just need to teach Little One that it’s fantastic to be an advocate of healthy eating, but at the same time, not to be preachy about what others eat. I’m not preachy about food, but I do promote healthy meals and eating a rainbow at every meal.
I overheard Little One at a play date at our house and had to groan. Her friend told her that “vegetables are gross!” and told Little One that her food was gross because she eats veggies and fruit. Little One’s retort was, “Well, if you eat chicken fingers and fries all the time, you’re going to die!” She then went on to tell her friend that all her packaged snacks were full of sodium and that wasn’t good either. “If you eat junk food all the time, you’re going to die.”
Yes, she told her friend that she would die if she kept eating crappy food.
Now, I have NEVER told Little One that junk food will kill you and that if you eat poorly, you will die. Obviously, she heard this from somewhere though!
Though I appreciate my soon-to-be six year old being such a great advocate for healthy eating, I’m working on teaching her that we need to be a bit more tactful when we speak to others.
I want Little One to be assertive and confident and make good decisions. I don’t want her to feel like I’m squashing her thoughts and opinions, because I am not. I’m just trying to find a way to help her voice her thoughts without coming across as preachy and militant. No one likes being ragged on.
Teaching how to be tactful is a challenge for even adults! Any tips on how to teach a 5 year old about social filters?