Apparently, warning children that snacks are going to make them fat just makes them want the snack more.
Surely every parent already knows this, starting with the very first parents right at the dawn of humanity? Tell a child they can’t have something and their brain immediately defaults to ‘You’re keeping the good stuff for yourself!’
They have to try it, to find out why it’s not allowed. Tell them not to touch fire and they’ll touch it to find out why. In that case only once, but tell them not to eat chocolate and they’ll test that assertion over and over.
The antismoking crusade is what drives children to smoking. It’s bad, it’s evil, you can’t have it… so they have to try it and find out for themselves. Some won’t like it, some will. The same goes for alcohol, sugar, salt… That’s because children are people, and people are all individuals with different likes and dislikes. Something modern medicine can’t seem to grasp.
Children aren’t stupid. Repellent, unhygienic and despicable yes, but not stupid.
Children want to be grown up. They want to try grown up stuff. Okay, when we grow up we realise we were far better off being children, but what child knows this apart from those of us who never really grew up?
So, tell them they can’t have it and it’s grown-up stuff. It exists therefore someone has it. It must be the grown-ups. They want it for themselves. Why can’t we have it?
The concept of ‘one day you’ll be a grown-up’ is entirely lost on children. On most adults too. They cannot envisage the future, only the past – and for children it’s often just the ‘now’. That’s why children don’t see consequences, and why most adults don’t see them either. They cannot think ahead. They don’t know how.
I’ll soon be 57. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. Most people follow a path through life. Not me. I just bumble through and most of it (barring a few utter disasters) seems to work out. I’m alive, and eternally broke, but I can pay the rent and buy food and put petrol in the car so everything is good. I don’t want to be rich. There is nothing I need that much money for.
I remember being a child. I had a Dalek suit made of PVC. It was floppy and didn’t hold the Dalek shape but it was fun. Armed with a sink plunger and a whisk. I had a Scammel tank transporter steel toy and a tank (can’t remember which) to put on the back. I melted many, many toy soldiers on the coal fire.
I had Action Man toys, Batman’s Batmobile with plastic flame from the exhaust, Joe 90’s car, Bond’s Aston Martin, many many more. These would all be worth a fortune now if I had thought ahead. Kept them pristine and in their boxes. All are gone.
But I was a child. Joe 90 died in a mid-air collision with Thunderbird 2. Batman and Bond failed in their missions in spectacular style, involving a screwdriver and deadly curiosity. I took things apart to see how they worked. I was not thinking of the future. There wasn’t one. There was only ‘now’. The future happens after sleep and it’ll be the same as today.
Yeah, I was told not to touch the drinks cabinet. So obviously I had a go at the sherry, the easiest one to open. I was strangely uninterested in my dad’s cigarettes but then he never told me not to try them. Either he assumed I couldn’t light them, or that I wouldn’t be interested, or that it was so obvious he didn’t need to tell me. Whatever the reason, they weren’t on the banned list so weren’t interesting.
I have stuck a knife in the toaster and I have run with scissors. I’m still here. The scissors were closed and held point down and I unplugged the toaster before digging out the stuck crumpet. They don’t tell you that part. Just the overall ‘it’s dangerous’, not the way to make it not dangerous.
Snacks won’t make you fat unless you eat a lot of them and don’t move much. That is not the warning that’s ever given. There is no safe level of biscuits or crisps – that is the warning and it’s patently ridiculous.
Children see it. Medics and pressure groups don’t. Can you?