Should We Punish Children for Not Finishing Their Dinner?

At dinner a couple of nights ago, my wife and I wouldn’t let our daughter have dessert because she didn’t finish her dinner?…Is that such a good idea? That’s how it was for me growing up, and I’m sure it was the same way in most other households in the U.S., but that state of mind may just be contributing the growing child obesity problem worldwide – and especially in the U.S where child obesity has reached epidemic proportions.
child obesity is on the rise

According to a recent study, child obesity rates have tripled over the past 25 years. Furthermore, children in the U.S. seem to be affected by childhood obesity greater than most other countries. It’s estimated that there are about 2.7 million severely obese children in the U.S. – needless to say, that’s a staggering figure. Severe obesity in children is defined as a child being in the 99th percentile in regards to BMI (body mass index) for their age and gender.

Not only are children getting less exercise these days because of video games, computers, and TVs, but all of the processed foods and sugary snacks are contributing even more to their unhealthy weight. As a child back in the late 80s and 90s, I can remember spending the whole day outside riding my bike, playing sports, and running around with the other neighborhood kids – today is a different day and age, and it seems that kids would rather spend their day inside playing video games or surfing the Internet. There are many factors that can be attributed to the growing child obesity epidemic, but it’s up to us as parents to reduce the risk.

So next time one of the kids doesn’t finish their dinner, maybe I won’t punish them with no dessert or make them sit at the table until it’s finished. Healthy eating habits start when you’re a child, so lets not force our children to eat when they say that they’re full. Child obesity is a growing problem that must be addressed by parents or the problem will continue to spiral out of control.

6 Responses to Should We Punish Children for Not Finishing Their Dinner?
  1. Kimberly Sepulveda

    Okay, I hope this will be a good opinion(: I was thinking about this the other day when I was eating dinner with my 2 1/2 year old. I am very into good health, and I would not want to pressure him to eat all of his dinner just for dessert, so I was just thinking that I had to be very careful with proportions. Maybe get scientific about it, like take him to a doctor so he can evaluate his calorie, fat, etc needs, and serve him according to his specific needs. Then factor the dessert into that also, because then he gets everything he really needs, and wants. I mean, if I made an insanely good dinner one night and he wanted more than I set for him I would not deny him, but I think I should do thin for myself now, so I will already be in the flow of it later. Anyways, I found this cute video I think you would really appreciate, it is also about child obesity, but it is cute.

  2. Jason

    I love your blog. I can’t wait to read more. I have a blog myself that attempts to inspire people. I would like to exchange links with you. Let me know if this is possible.

  3. Wellescent Health Blog

    As your first commenter, Kimberly stated, I think it is about proper proportions. Children need to be encouraged to eat a good meal with the right vegetables, meat and carbohydrates but with the right total amount of food. You can induce obesity in your partner, your kids or even your dog if you don’t give them a reasonably sized portion.

    Equally as importantly, the kids have to spend time playing out away from the TV and computer instead of being where they are both sedentary and able to eat while doing very little.

  4. David

    Since when has not giving your kid dessert been punishing them? I think the larger issue than, “Should I punish my kid for not finishing his/her meal” is why does your child feel that he/she deserves dessert every night? Children can only eat what you provide for them.

  5. Haley Sitkiewicz

    A friend of mine linked me this on facebook. I really like the site, this post is easily my favorite, thanks!

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