I adore children, and they seem to know it. Often, I can calm a crying child in a grocery store with a loving look and a smile. Although if they're really upset, sometimes a slight frown works best, as then they know that they have sympathy. I can recall a handful of times when this hasn't worked, but most of the time it does, and I'll do it whenever the opportunity arises. Within seconds, the cries will become sniffles as the child stares back at me. Within a minute, the child will be calm. Generally, just the child and I child will know what has happened.
There is, however, always an exception to the rule, and I had the experience of babysitting one of these exceptions a few years back. This child was unruly, demanding, and only four. Because I happened to know this child's preschool teacher, I knew how he behaved with me was not an isolated incident. It was his rule, not his exception.
One of the overtly demanding things this child did was demand to eat (and I do mean loudly demand, not ask or suggest.) He had made this demand a few minutes after he'd done something highly inappropriate, like I don't know, biting his baby brother. To be honest, I don't recall the reason that I had told him we weren't going to do anything he wanted until he had calmed down. And since that hadn't yet occurred, I wasn't backing down.
I do remember what he wanted to eat though: hot dogs.
When we did get something to eat, I gave him a banana. While looking for something to give him, I noticed that there was plenty of food available, but hardly any "real food." What I mean by real food is food from nature. Food that our bodies are designed to eat - not processed, manufactured foods from a bag, box, or can. Not foods that contain many chemicals and additives. It instantly became clear to me that his unnatural diet was largely, if not entirely, responsible for his behavior.
The child had been consuming chemical and processed foods his entire young life. He likely started with a sugary formula and then graduated to jarred baby food. Obviously missing from his diet were the foods that nature gave him to eat: large amounts of fruits, vegetables, and nuts.
From the get-go, he may also have been missing mother's milk, which transfers to the child's probiotics, or the healthy bacteria for our gut. These healthy bacteria make up the foundation of our immune system and formula-fed kids aren't getting these healthy bacteria anywhere. (I'd like to raise my child without a properly functioning immune system please...)
My frustration with that unruly child turned to pity. My pity also went out to the child's parents, because I knew they wouldn't be doing this if they truly understood the consequence. They just didn't understand how much food plays a role in behavior, especially in a young child. And believe me, they were suffering too. They got to deal with these outbursts more than anyone.
When that child is a little older, someone will likely insist that he be placed on the drug Ritalin. Ritalin will only add more unnatural chemicals to his fragile little body, and as some have found, may even create irreversible brain damage.
All this from a problem that most likely could have been avoided and solved entirely by consistently choosing different foods at the grocery store, and ideally switching to an organic market. Of course, to keep meals simple and pleasurable, you might also need to learn a few simple food preparation techniques, but that's really not too much to ask. These small steps would have kept so many unnatural and often dangerous chemicals out of that small child's body - and away from his brain and nervous system.
As a society, and as parents, how can we expect to have healthy children when we're constantly feeding them unnatural chemicals while denying them the bounty of nature's foods which are full of the nutrients they need? Making the simple switch to whole, organic foods from nature can make a world of difference for your children - in their health and their behavior. If you stick to it, especially during the teenage years, it'll also save you more headaches than you can probably imagine.