Lollipops, mini-chocolate bars, coloured marshmallows, the list goes on….these are a few of the “rewards” that my son has been given this school year by his grade one teacher. the good news is that he must be doing something right in order to receive these “treats”, but there is plenty of bad news here as far as this parent/nutritionist is concerned.
First off I need to say that this is a wonderful teacher with plenty of experience. She is so organized and runs a tight ship – these kids really listen to her. Not a lot of misbehaving going on in that classroom from what I’ve seen. That is why I’m so surprised that she uses sugary and artificially flavoured/coloured treats (which may contribute to hyperactivity among other things in children), as a reward. These treats often get handed out towards the end of the day, which is why I’m the one who has to deal with the subsequent meltdown of mammoth proportions.
I’ve been noticing a pattern since about the second week of school when, after answering a question correctly, Sam was given a bright red lollipop. Imagine his sheer delight! He ate that thing in front of me, giggling and smiling the whole time, as if to say “dried apricots never tasted this good loser!”. But it wasn’t until we got home and after coming down from his lolly high, that he started yelling and throwing things around our living room. This was really angry behavior and not typical of my son.
This pattern of what seems to be a sugar/artificial flavour/colour induced behavior problem has continued sporadically throughout the school year. Right up until yesterday when mini-marshmallow consumption preempted a 30 minute, crying, foot-stamp fit when asked to do his homework (which he got extremely frustrated by because he couldn’t concentrate on it for long enough to understand what he was doing). I usually wait until he calms down and try to connect the emotions and behavior to the food eaten, and he does seem to be beginning to understand that connection. I’m just not sure how much more of this, if any, I should put up with before taking this to the teacher.
Sam is definitely more sensitive to these non-foods than many other children and maybe his behavior isn’t typical, but it still seems all wrong to me. We should be nourishing bodies as well as minds at school, not doing them harm. Particularly during cold and flu season (sugar despresses your immune system you know).
So there’s my dilemma – do I just keep trying to teach my children to make healthy choices and hope that ultimately they do? Or do I take this fight to the school and risk outing myself as the junk-food hating trouble maker that I am?