A healthy house isn’t achieved by nagging or fear-mongering. If you want a panic-free transition away from sugary drinks, you’ve got to smile and accentuate the positive. It’s just like when I asked my soccer parents (with a smile) to bring water and fruit. I didn’t make it a guilt trip or shock them into submission with my great power as volunteer recreation league coach. I just said, let’s keep it simple and healthy.
Kids process information the same way. Your talking points should always be consistent, simple, and positive. Have you ever heard of talking points? It’s just the official term for key statements used to promote your idea. In this case, you’re promoting health. That’s your job as a parent.
Here are a few simple talking points you can use with your fam. (Pssst, I use these, too.)
- Water is the best drink when we’re thirsty.
- Water is really good for your kidneys. Feel free to elaborate more depending on the age of your kids and if they’re into physiology. You’d be surprised what kids want to know.
- Water is really refreshing. After my soccer kids would take a water break, I would ask them if the cold water felt good on their throats. They always said, “Yes!”
I never tell my kids that juice and soda are evil. I do tell them that soda has too much sugar and that it’s not helping them to grow strong. I then steer the conversation to healthy, sweet things they love, like fruit. It’s guaranteed that they will socially encounter juice, soda, and other juice-wannabe products. It’s not my job to be a helicopter or to make them feel bad about wanting sweets. I’d rather talk up the healthy heroes.
Here are some easy, positive strategies to help your transition:
- When you’re first making the transition, make it ridiculously easy to access water. (e.g. have it ready with a straw and crushed ice when they first get in the door, have the fridge stocked with water bottles, etc.)
- Make sure they “catch” you drinking water.
- Every time your child is thirsty, offer water.
- If you have tweens or teens, make sure you promote the benefits of drinking water and healthy skin.
- There’s a difference between a drink and a dessert. Make reasonable guidelines about when it’s okay to indulge in a Slurpee or root beer float.
- Ask them to tell you their favorite way to drink water. Do you like it with ice? No ice? With a straw? With lemon?
- Another great strategy is to ask your dentist or pediatrician to reinforce the positive health behaviors that you’re teaching at home.
Check out these good reads about making heroes out of healthy food:
Here’s a favorite post from last year, Join the health revolution without a revolt: 7 tips for your transition