Pathways to Wellness

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The nag factor

A study published in 2011 asked mothers of 3-5 years olds about television viewing, food requests made by their kids, and how they handle these requests.  All moms said that their children had nagged them to buy foods associated with clever packaging, characters, or advertisements directed at children.  So if your child has nagged you, you are definitely not alone!

Five year olds nag more than 3 year olds, and those that watch more televisions commercials, nag the most.  Nagging takes many forms - from asking again and again, whining and stomping feet to tantrums in public, loudly declaring "I hate you" and everything in between.    Sound familiar?  If you are like most parents, you've given in more times than you want to admit in order to avoid struggles, arguments and tears.

Moms in this study had many other ways of responding to nagging, including ignoring or distracting their kids, and even yelling.  Some moms tried to get ahead of it, and be proactive.   These strategies may be more effective because they prevent nagging and allow mothers to feel better about how they've handled the situation:

  • consistently and calming saying "no",
  • avoiding shopping with their children,
  • allowing children to choose a healthier alternative,
  • setting rules and negotiating agreements about what they will buy before they go shopping,
  • explaining why some foods are bought and  others are not, and
  • limiting their children's exposure to television advertising.

No one way of responding will work for all parents and all children, or on every occasion.  Try out a few ways of preventing nagging, and see which ones work best for you.

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