It’s on. My daughter and I are locked in a struggle over sugary cereals. Mostly now it’s in my head. I don’t make a big deal of it in front of her, but I’m sliding further down that slippery, soggy slope.
My daughter eats a great variety of foods, self-regulates well and is largely pleasant at meals. But, she is 5. She senses my weakness. You may have been following my Frosted Flakes saga, well, yesterday we upped the stakes. (What is so funny to me is that I had this war with my father over Sugar Smacks. I remember it so well, even to the point where he bought plain “puffed wheat” and filled the empty box with it thinking I wouldn’t notice-Hello!)
So, it’s the last day of 2 weeks of break, no chld-care basically and I strained my neck. So, I was in pain, tired and trying to grocery shop after a trip to the zoo. I’d already backed my husband up on a
“no” to Chocolate Teddy Grahams and a few other things, caved on the individual plastic cups of apple-sauce that she begs for because her friends have them (I usually buy a jar and put it in reusable tupperware) – when we hit the cereal aisle (unfamiliar store to boot.)
So, I am looking on the backs of boxes, Frosted Flakes has 11 grams of sugar per serving, Raisin Bran has 13 (but most of the sugar would be from raisins, and the serving size is almost twice as big.) Fruit loops and other rainbow-hued cereals have less sugar than Frosted Flakes, but a thousand ingredients, most of which I can’t pronounce. So, we got the Frosted Flakes again (after having run out only a few days earlier) and I bought a small pack of assorted cereals my Dad would refer to as “crap.” I caved, I couldn’t fight any more. She wore me down. She sensed my weakness and I caved. The guilt that I will be leaving her next weekend for a few days was certainly part of it, as was my thinking that I can’t make this into a big deal. I can’t make this cereal the forbidden fruit.Heck, I grew out of my preference for Sugar Smacks, I trust that she will too. (There’s that word again– trust.)
So she had Frosted Flakes this morning, said “no thank you” to the banana, grapefruit and toast. We had a pleasant breakfast, and this too shall pass. (Her lunch was ham and tortilla with Miracle Whip, bean noodle Thai salad with sugar snap peas, and apple-sauce.) I will get back on my horse, she will get her colored cereal when the sitter is here, and I will do my best not to get sucked into negotiations. (This morning she was already asking if she could have the cereal when Gramma and Grampa visit in a few weeks. Ho, that would send my father over the edge-Apple Jax! Ha!) but, I just said, “We’ll see, I’m not talking about that now.” It’s something I need to practice. She’s gotten good at negotiating, too good. My husband and I have started to sing that Priceline song, you might know it, the “Priceline Negotiator!” Just sub in whatever you want (not in front of the kids though.) It helps us diffuse the situation. So when I say “no” to one thing, and she starts instantly negotiating for something else, I need to stay calm, remember it’s her job to do this, and it’s my job to decide and not get pushed around (too much.)
No one said it would be easy, though!
Is your child a skillful negotiator? When are you likely to cave? Is it balanced? (Sometimes caving is just fine!)
addendum 12 noon, from a mom in the comments section, I loved this…:
My daughter is also a born negotiator. I can tell you it doesn’t get better with age (she’s now 13). I never had to deal with a lot of cereal negotiations, though, because I let price be the ultimate determinant. I’m a bargain-shopper coupon-queen, and I included her in on the hunt for a deal from the time she was very little. So she knew that we’d buy whatever cereal we got the best deal on. Usually, that meant something like Frosted Mini Wheats, Cheerios or Raisin Bran, because those have coupons and go on sale in regular cycles. But on rare occasions, there would be a fantastic deal on sugary kids cereal, and I think she felt like she’d hit the lottery. She’s now lost most of her taste for the kiddie stuff, and often doesn’t want it even when I offer. “Do you want Chocolate Sugar Bombs or Earthy Healthy Crunchies?” “Which one do we have a coupon for? Well, if they’re both the same price, I’ll take the Earthy Healthy Crunchies. They fill me up longer.”