Thursday, October 8, 2009

Helping Your Children Make Wise Choices

As parents, we are in a very privileged position. We have the opportunity to guide our children in their decision making. We are granted a handful of years in which to instruct them according to wisdom and equip them for the lifetime of choices they will have to make.

As babies, we decide everything for them. As toddlers, we give them liberty in some areas to choose according to their preferences. We guide our littles with wise counsel, all the while teaching them the facts they need to know in order to make good decisions. And over time, our children grow independent, making all of their own choices.

This process of independence applies to nutrition choices, as well as everything else under the sun. We can not stand over our older children's shoulders and dictate their choices. Yet, we should take every opportunity to give them knowledge and understanding so that they, themselves, will make sound choices.

If we are going to raise up children who have enough understanding to choose wisely, we need to guide them while they are young. Look at your nurturing position as an amazing opportunity! And daily take advantage of that opportunity...

But what specifically should we tell our kids? First, understand the mechanisms of wellness yourself. If you did not read this series yesterday, refresh your memory today.
What next? Well, I talk with my kids all day long. We talk about almost everything. So, it only makes sense that we would talk about health and nutrition.

I have told them...
  1. that they are in a stage of very rapid growth,
  2. that their body's trillions of cells are reproducing themselves so that nearly their entire body will be brand new in just one year,
  3. that their cells need real building materials for this amazing work,
  4. and that if their body does not have the building materials necessary, their cells will still have to replace themselves, just with a weaker copy...
  5. that they have the choice to build healthy or weakened cells, which will in turn make up a healthy or weakened body.
That is totally understandable to Rainbow and Spiderman. But what about Witzy and Tickle? It has been helpful to use this illustration... maybe you'll find it illuminating as well.
Marshmallow Hearts for Valentine's Day
Marshmallow Hearts for Valentine's Day

Imagine that you are building yourself a castle. It has to be a strong castle, because you live in a land where there are flying dragons that could break down the walls. You have to have strong walls in order to keep out all your other enemies too.

So, what will you build your castle with? You have some choices... You can build your castle with legos, blocks that have been especially designed to interconnect and stack securely. Or, you can build your castle with marshmallows and M&Ms.

If you choose marshmallows and M&Ms, and if you are very careful about how you stack them, you might see a wall take shape. But, the first time an enemy approaches, even his footfalls might shake the ground so much the walls would fall. Or, the first time a dragon flies by, his wings would create enough wind to blow down your only defense -- your walls.

Your body is the same way. You are building it with the food that God has specifically designed to make healthy cells, just like the lego blocks in your castle. You would not want to replace a lego with a marshmallow. That part of the wall would be weak. And, if you trade too many legos for marshmallows, your wall would not hold up at all.

When you have a choice of what to eat, choose the foods that are closest to what God made and leave the other stuff for only very special occasions (like your birthday!).

Then, practice identifying foods with your young children. See if they can tell what God has made, what is only slightly changed by mankind, and what is totally man-made. As always, your children will like adventure... so make your story exciting, and make the daily choices a game.


Tonya said...

Did you come up with this analogy? You are amazing, brilliant, and I'm so proud to call you friend! (For many more reasons than your wonderful analogies!)

Amy Ellen said...

Thanks for your sweet words, Tonya. And, yes, that one came off the top of my head.

:-) ae

Anonymous said...

I agree with Tonya...that was a very brilliant way to explain it to the little ones!