By Ivy Bagley
One of the biggest struggles parents face is often between grandparents and over indulging children with unhealthy meals or snacks. This can be a source of tension on all sides. Grandparents typically do not wish to be the boundary setters. They have been in the parenting role and are now in a different stage of life. On the other hand, it’s a parent’s job to encourage and offer healthy choices. It can create many challenges for parents when grandparents wish to share unhealthy treats on a daily basis.
Here are some suggestions I give parents to gently approach this topic with grandparents.
1. Talk openly to kids about listening to their bodies. Help them understand signals of being full. This allows them to understand it is ok to say, “I’m full.”
2. Help children understand what are healthy portion sizes and healthy choices in general. This will help them to say “no thank you” when offered unhealthy options.
3. Develop a snack box. This box goes to the grandparent’s home and provides healthy snack items for children. This allows some of the pressure to be taken off the grandparent.
4. Have grandparents come to your child’s well visit or schedule an appointment with your child’s provider to discuss the importance of making healthy dietary and fitness choices now to prevent illness in the future.
5. Encourage grandparents to have a treat night/afternoon. For example, on Friday if they pick up their grandchildren from school, maybe that is the day they have one scoop of ice cream while walking at the park.
6. Recognize this will take time for everyone to adjust. Small setbacks are a great opportunity for education.
7. Help grandparents understand portion sizes. They, themselves, may think it’s ok to eat a kid’s meal for a “snack.”
8. Encourage other activities besides snacking.
Maybe they train together for an upcoming 5k. Even if they are walking to the
finish line, they are making strides towards better health.
Grandparents are an important part of our team and helping them understand their role in our kids’ making healthy life-long choices is important. As parents and healthcare providers, it is vital we give them the tools and encouragement necessary for their role.