This topic, children with behavioural issues and coke, came up in a conversation the other day with a close friend. Someone close to both of us had let their child have a coke while they were out for dinner. Which may not seem like a big issue, and it’s something I often see people do.
So what’s wrong with a little bit of Coke every now and then?
Well Coke, in my opinion is not something kids should be having whether or not they have behavioural issues. It’s loaded with sugar and caffeine, kids get enough sugar in their diet as it is and caffeine well it’s an addictive drug, that’s something they really just don’t need.
So as an example, you’re out for dinner with friends, your child has ADHD, you want to give them a treat so you let them have a glass of coke. It make you feel good giving them something special. The thing is, the child already has problems sitting still, and now they’re loaded with sugar which sets them off and on top of that they’re loaded with caffeine which leaves them pinging. So the problem is they’ve just been set up to fail, they won’t be able to sit still, they play up and pretty soon they’re getting in trouble and probably punished for not behaving.
A positive thing has become a negative, but it doesn’t end there, the next time you’re out, they hassle you and they keep on annoying you because they got a coke last time so they think “maybe if I keep nagging I might get another one” So they end up being punished again. So they’re set up to fail again. But it doesn’t stop there either, because now they’ve been taught that Coke is special, so they grow up thinking Coke is special, that it’s a good thing. When they get older and have a few dollars to spend at the shop they’re going to buy something special, they’re going to buy a coke. They’ve been taught to make unhealthy choices.
I’ve never given my kids coke, if they wanted a treat they might get a fruit juice or something similar. Which is starting to show in the choices they’re making for themselves now that they’re getting older.
The way I see it, It’s not about giving them what they want but giving them what they need.
Children don’t know what’s good for them and what the right choices for them are, it’s up to the parent to make the right choices for them. The child doesn’t understand why they’re getting in trouble, they don’t understand why they’re failing. So a little gesture that makes the parent feel good creates a long list of problems for the child, the parent and everyone else involved. Children with behavioural issues have enough to deal with they don’t need fuel added to the fire.