“MOOO-OOM! I want that!”
It’s a cry that many a parent has heard in the supermarket when caught between a brightly colored box of junk food and an insistent child. It might start with a simple request (“Can I have that, please?”) and slowly escalate to a full-scale tantrum. So how to parents cope when kids nag them to buy unhealthy food? Believe it or not, this has actually been studied, to a small degree.
This week, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health released the results of a study on this phenomenon, known as “the nag factor.” Research interviewed 64 moms of kids aged 3 to five years between October 2006 and July 2007. The mothers were asked question about their household environment, themselves, eating and shopping patterns and other information.
Participants were also asked how they coped when their kids nagged them for certain items. Moms consistently cited 10 nag response strategies:
2. Giving in
5. Staying calm and consistent
6. Avoiding the commercial environment
7. Negotiating and setting rules
8. Allowing alternative items
9. Explaining the reasoning behind choices and
10. Limiting commercial exposure.
The study also identified three times of nagging: juvenile nagging, nagging to test boundaries and manipulative nagging.
About 36 percent of the moms interviewed suggested limiting commercial exposure was the best nag defense system, while 35 percent said explained to children the reasons why they couldn’t have certain foods was the best method. Giving in was frequently cited as one of the least effective strategies.
So what do you do when your child nags you for sugary cereal or a box of cookies? Do you give in? Whip out some fruit? Have you planned an alternative route that allows you to bypass all the problem items?
Share your thoughts below!