Hilaria Baldwin recently landed herself in some controversy over how she diciplined her son
Look – we have all been here.
I know I have, for sure.
That feeling when you are at your absolute wits end with kids who just won't flipping listen, no matter what you do and how much you plead with them and use all positive parenting techniques known to man.
And it is then, at that very moment, that you are prone to resorting to parenting faux pas you swore blind you would never commit – prior to motherhood, of course, and before discovering what actual little monsters kids can be sometimes. Like; I was super-cocky about bribery, and swore blind I would never do it. Even went as far as eye-rolling at parents who did. Fast forward a few years, when I found myself in various public places with a tantrum-ing toddler, and by God, I bribed to beat the band. Still do. And trust me when I say I don't eye roll any more. These days, in fact, I'd be more likely to high-five or hug a mum I come across who resort to all sorts of desperate measures to get her kids under control. We are all in the trenches, mamas.
This was no doubt also the case for Hilaria Baldwin, who recently shared on her Instagram stories about how she saw no other way of dealing with his behaviour than withholding dessert from her four-year-old son, Rafa. Sharing details about the incidents, the mum-of-four revealed:
“Rafa wasn’t listening to me today about a few things. It got so bad that I ended up taking away dessert tonight,” she wrote. “Something I thought I would never do…but it truly was the only way I could think of to get his attention.”
Clearly conflicted about the situation, she continued detailing the episode, and asked what other mums would do in her situation, even sharing about her own battles with an eating disorder and how she is well aware how complicated our relationship with food can get.
“For those of you who, like me, get nervous about using food as reward/punishment…I do believe that teaching [kids] to have a healthy relationship with food when they are upset is the most important thing.”
She also acknowledges that there is, of course, a difference between actual food and dessert.
"Another important thing we must teach our children is the difference between food and dessert,' she wrote. 'Food is to nurture. It is nutrition. Dessert is for fun and sometimes thing for celebration."
However, things were fine again between the 35-year-old and her little boy the following morning.
"First conversation Rafa and I had this morning was him telling me how he is going to be such a good listener today,' she wrote. 'We hugged and kissed and then ran into the kitchen to plan dessert for tonight. We shall see if his behavior changes ... I believe strongly that this kind of thing takes time and we, as parents, can't expect magical change. But his desire to get it right is worthy of much praise."
To be honest, I can't really see anything wrong with Hilaria's parenting method, and will be the first to admit that sometimes with kids, desperate times call for desperate measures.
However, not everyone agrees.
"Using food to control behaviour—also known as “instrumental feeding”—is confusing to kids, for one," explains this study from the experts at the University of Rochester Medical Center. “Children hear that they’re supposed to enjoy foods that are good for them and avoid foods with little nutritional value. Being told that they can indulge in foods that are bad for them as a reward for doing something good sends a mixed message. They may also start associating unhealthy foods with certain moods—when you feel good about yourself, for instance, it’s OK to reach for a sweet.”
Some even say using foods as a reward or punishment can increase the risk of children developing a pattern of emotional eating.
“Repeatedly using food to reward and punish teaches kids that food is tied to emotions both good and bad…that treats are the best thing ever [and] that food helps solve problems," explains dietitian Maryann Jacobsen to PureWow. "It teaches kids to eat when they are not hungry. This leaves them ill-prepared for the food-plenty world in which we live.”
However, can we all just agree that Baldwin, even in the midst of this whole ordeal, was a pretty darn amazing mama?
“I spent extra time with him while he was processing and so angry," she wrote. "It took a really long time for him to calm down. I just kept saying I love him and I know he can do better…Talking [is] so vital to having the ability to process difficult moments in life.”
We all just do our best, mums. And really, I'm perfectly OK with that.