One of the ways you can love our children is to teach them how to soothe themselves in non-consumption based ways.
How many times has your child been feeling really down or really happy, and you have soothed or celebrated with a special treat? Don’t worry if you have – it’s pretty normal, even instinctual, but it needs to stop. You absolutely should never celebrate or soothe, or address any emotional state with food, drink or any consumption behavior like shopping.
This is not because food is bad, or because we shouldn’t ever eat for emotional purposes, but if your child has an eating disorder, then the connections between food and nurturance have been scrambled, and it’s time to get more intentional about the difference between emotional care and consumption-based care.
Feeding or buying something for your child is an attempt to nurture and support her. You have the right idea, but from now on, instead of buying your child a delicious frappucino or a new outfit, express what you are feeling instead. It’s funny, but that frappucino, food or shopping expedition is your way of saying things like:
- I think you’re beautiful
- You deserve nice things
- You are awesome
- I’m so proud of you
- I like being with you
- I want to know more about you
- I like spending time with you
- I want to nurture you
- I want to keep you safe
- I love you.
From now on, every single time your child expresses a feeling, don’t jump to buy something or feed your child. Instead, address it with an emotionally soothing verbal statement. As long as your child is living with you, you are becoming the voice in his or her head. Love your child with your words so that he or she learns to speak lovingly within.