巧克力随便吃 – Eat as much chocolate as you want

限制是一种变相的鼓励。但信任不等于放纵,而是教孩子学习自我管理。

奶奶带着三岁的孙子走进一家杂货店,店主拿出糖果盘来让孩子挑选——在德国,几乎所有的商店和诊所,随时都备有送给孩子的糖果。孩子摇摇头说:“谢谢,我不要。”店主以为自己听错了,再问一遍,孩子说:“我不要,家里有。”

并不是因为大人对孩子说过,不要吃陌生人给的食物;几乎所有的孩子,都会高兴地接受这样的小礼物。也不是因为孩子不爱吃甜食,他着迷于巧克力的味道。更不是因为大人警告说,你今天已经吃得太多了;恰恰相反,大人对他说,你可以随便吃。

奶奶给我讲这个故事,是和我交流管教孩子的方法。她的女儿有三个孩子,都喜欢吃巧克力,有时没有节制。最近,妈妈把孩子们叫到一起,带他们去看一个抽屉。哇,抽屉里装了好多巧克力和糖果。妈妈说,这些都是最好吃的巧克力和糖果,都是给你们吃的,吃完了妈妈又会放进来。你们可以随便吃,只有两个条件:一是吃巧克力之前要洗手;二是肚子很饿的时候,要先吃饭再吃巧克力。

孩子们答应了这两个条件。几天后,妈妈高兴地发现,抽屉里的巧克力并没有减少太多,孩子们吃的甜食比以前更少了。这就是信任孩子自我管理的结果。

当然,对于那些没有从小建立和父母的信任关系、培养自我管理能力的孩子来说,这个办法不会立竿见影。即便如此,父母需要对孩子做的事情,也是更多地信任,而不是更多地限制。在很大程度上,限制就是一种变相的鼓励。但是,信任不等于放纵,而是教他们学习自我管理。

有一天女儿告诉我说,她在幼儿园是“吃饭冠军”——有时别人吃一份,她要吃三份。也许是因为我当时想到了“饭桶”这个中文词,脸上出现了坏笑,后来女儿竭力抵制这个“荣誉”。但是,她从小就很能吃是一个事实。所幸的是,她并没有因此长胖。我想主要得益于两个因素,一是她热爱运动,二是她对甜食的控制。

对于在德国生活的孩子来说,这并不是一件容易的事。很多人认为德国饭菜难吃,但没有人否认这里的甜点很美味。有人开玩笑说,德国人能忍受那么难吃的饭菜,就是为了享受饭后甜点。而且,这里到处都是巧克力。女儿从各种节日或者赠送得到的巧克力和糖果,从来就没有吃完过。

和大多数孩子一样,女儿喜欢吃糖果和巧克力。从两岁开始,她就有一个自己的巧克力罐,里面从来没有空过。从一开始我们就告诉她说,每天只能吃任何甜食中的一个:包括糖果、巧克力、冰淇淋和作为零食的甜饼干、蛋糕和面包。巧克力罐通常放在她触手可及的地方,她可以自己决定什么时候吃。但是,一旦违反约定,罐子就会消失,第二天甚至第三天再出现。基本上她都能遵守约定。她想多吃一点的时候,也不会直接违规,而是来和父母商量说:“我们能不能改变一下约定?”

游泳池旁有一台自动售货机,她喜欢从里面买巧克力。我们约定,去两次只能买一次。她每次都会记住,该买的时候才会买。有时妈妈高兴了,会找个理由说,今天本不该买,但是我请你吃一个吧。她会很不好意思地说:“那……好吧。”

有朋友送了一盒圣诞节月历巧克力,从十二月一日开始每天吃一块,刚好到平安夜结束。女儿拿到之后说,我不需要吃这么多巧克力,我们改成每周吃一块吧。我同意了。几周之后,她有点更加明白这个月历的意思了,说:“这是圣诞节的礼物,我还是每天吃一块,尽快吃完吧。”我觉得有道理,也同意了,但是提醒她不能吃别的甜食了。

孩子当然不会总是循规蹈矩。事实上,女儿想要违规的时候也不少。她的办法多半是设法改写规则或者重新解释规则。比如她说,今天过节,我能不能多吃一个甜食?或者说,我的朋友来了,我可以想吃多少就吃多少吗?这些理由多半会得到同意。但是有些理由站不住脚,比如“我饭前吃,吃了一定好好吃饭”,就会被驳回。有时她也使性子,故意违规,我通常会告诉她没关系,小孩子闹情绪可以理解,只是明天没得吃了,后天就可以恢复正常。

有时候,她会说:“虽然今天已经吃了一块甜食,但是我现在还是想吃。”如果她不是闹情绪,也不在别的失控状态,我会当作她的身体自动发出的信号(可能一段时间吃糖偏少),同意让她多吃一两块。

不要不信任孩子的自我管理能力。就说饮食方面,至少在我家里,女儿的自我管理能力,一点也不比父母差。我相信,哪怕我告诉她,巧克力可以随便吃,也不会有什么大问题。

(作者为自由撰稿人)

Restriction is a type of covert encouragement. However trusting doesn’t mean giving free reign, instead it is teaching children to learn how to manage themselves.

Grandma brings her three year old grandson into a grocery store, the store owner brings out a plate of candy for the child to choose from — in Germany, almost every shop and clinic will have candy provided for children at any time. The child shakes his head saying: “No thank you.” The store owner thinking they misheard, asks again, but the child says: “I don’t want it, I have some at home.”

It’s not because the child was told by adults to not eat candy from strangers; almost all children will happily receive this kind of small present. It’s also not because the child doesn’t like to eat sweets, he is mesmerized by the taste of chocolate. Neither is it because he was warned by adults that today he has eaten too many; just the opposite, adults told him, you can eat it whenever you wish.

Grandma told me this story to exchange methods for disciplining children. Her daughter has three children who all love to eat chocolate, sometimes uncontrollably. Recently, the mother called her children together, and took them to look at a drawer. Wow, the drawer was filled with many chocolates and candy. The mother said, these are the most delicious chocolates and candies for all of you to eat, once finished mother will put more in. You can eat as much as you want, but there are just two conditions: one, is you must wash your hands before you eat the chocolate; two, is when your stomach is really hungry, you must first eat rice and then eat the chocolate.

The children agreed to the two conditions. A few days later, the mother happily discovered that the chocolates in the drawer had not decreased much, the sweets that the children had eaten was less than before. This is the result of trusting children’s self-management.

Of course, in regards to those who have not established a trust relationship with their parents from a young age, when it comes to nurturing the ability to self-manage, this method won’t get instant results for these children. Even so, the thing parents must do for children, is to give even more trust, rather than more restrictions. To a great degree, restriction is a type of covert encouragement. However, trusting doesn’t mean giving free reign, instead it is teaching children to learn how to manage themselves.

One day my daughter told me that, in her kindergarten she is the “Champion Rice Eater” — when people ate one portion, she would eat three portions. Perhaps it was because at the time I thought of the Chinese word “rice bucket”, an evil grin came onto my face, afterwards my daughter vigorously resisted this “honor”. However, it was a fact that she could eat a lot ever since young. Fortunately, she didn’t grow plump because of this. I think the main benefit was due to two factors: one, she loved exercise, and two, the control she had for sweets.

Regarding the lifestyle of children in Germany, this is not an easy task. Many people believe that German dishes are hard to eat, but no one can deny that the sweets here are very delicious. Someone once joked that Germans are able to endure such tasteless food because they can enjoy the sweet desserts after. In fact, chocolate is everywhere here. My daughter has never finished eating the chocolates and candies from various festivals or presents.

Just like the majority of children, my daughter likes eating candy and chocolate. From the age of two, she had her own chocolate jar, which has never been empty. From the beginning we told her, each day you can only eat one from among any of the sweets: including candy, chocolate, ice cream, and sweet snack biscuits, cakes and bread. The chocolate jar was usually placed somewhere she could reach, she could decide herself when to eat it. However, once she broke the agreement, the jar would disappear, appearing again on the second or even third day. Generally she was able to keep to the agreement. When she wanted to eat a little more, she wouldn’t directly break the rules, but rather come to her parents to discuss: “Can we change the agreement a little?”

Beside the pool was an automated vending machine that she liked to buy chocolate from. We agreed, she could only buy once in two visits. She would always remember to only buy when she should. Sometimes when mother was in a cheerful mood, she would find a reason and say, today originally I shouldn’t buy, but I will treat you to one. She would bashfully reply: “Well…ok then.”

A friend gave a box of Christmas calendar chocolates, where you would eat a piece each day starting from December 1st right up to Christmas eve. After receiving it my daughter said, I don’t need to eat this much chocolate, let’s change it to eating one piece per week. I agreed. A few weeks later, she understood a little more about the meaning of this calendar, saying: “This is a Christmas gift, I will still eat one piece per day, and finish it quickly.” I thought she had a point, and also agreed, but I reminded her she couldn’t eat other sweets.

Children of course will not always stick to the rules. In reality, there were many times my daughter thought of breaking the rules. Most of the time she would think of ways to change or re-explain the rules. For example she would say, today is a special occasion so can I eat one more sweet? Or say, my friend is visiting, can I eat as much as I want to eat? Most of the time these reasons would be approved. However some reasons were not justifiable, for example “I will definitely eat my rice properly if I eat it before”, would be turned down. Sometimes she would even get into a temper, deliberately breaking the rules, I would often tell her it doesn’t matter, it’s understandable that children fall into a mood, but tomorrow you won’t be able to eat it, the day after tomorrow will return to normal.

At times, she would say: “Even though today I have eaten one sweet, but I still want to eat it now.” If she wasn’t in a mood, and not in any other uncontrollable state, I would consider it as her body automatically sending out signals (maybe for a period of time eating few sweets), and agree to let her eat one or two more.

Don’t distrust children’s ability to manage themselves. In regards to food and drink, at least in my household, my daughter’s self management ability is no less than her parents. I believe that even if I tell her, eat as much chocolate as you want, there will not be any major problems.

(The author is a freelance contributor)

1 Comment

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adminreply
August 3, 2018 at 5:13 am

Original translation by Gillian

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