Why I Disciplined my Daughter for Eating Kiwi

My daughter said something yesterday that I haven’t been able to get out of my head. We were talking after a timeout, one which she’d earned for getting into the fridge without asking.


Check out the number of implements my three-year-old used to get into this kiwi. Impressive.

The culprit? Kiwi. Sweet, luscious green kiwi. (It’s day 25 of my 40-day fast. Forgive me if I wax poetic about anything food-related.)

Okay. I know. Who punishes their child for snacking on health food? Well, me. Why? Because my daughter doesn’t just stop at the fruit drawer. Yesterday alone I caught her sneaking a juice box, graham crackers, a kiwi, and carrots. All harmless, really, but it’s the principle that I’m worried about. I don’t want her taking things without asking.

At this stage, she has no concept of the need for self-control.

So after her third mistake/timeout session, I sat down on the stairs next to her and said something like, “Don’t you care that mama told you to ASK for something that you want, instead of just taking it?” Her response was so close to human nature that I couldn’t help but laugh.

Well, sometimes I do care, but sometimes I don’t.

Bless my baby. At least she’s honest.

That’s simply the black and white of it. Sometimes we care about doing the right thing, and sometimes, we just don’t.

For children, it seems to be an issue of motivation. In my house, the consequences of getting caught with contraband food usually aren’t that bad. Timeout. Discussion. Besides. What mom wants to punish her daughter for eating a carrot?

For adults, it’s another story. Most of us know right from wrong. Motivation still plays a role, but it’s different sort of reward we’re after now. And self-control?  Not if we can help it.

No one wants to tell themselves no. It’s like a rite of passage for adults. Maybe we went without when we were kids, or teens, in our twenties or as newlyweds, but dang it NOW we should be able to have everything we want.

We earned it. We deserve it. We think we need it, because want and need have become two inextricable things in our mind.

But when did want become as honorable as need?

Twice yesterday, the topic of self-control came up. The first was my best friend telling me that Katy Perry prays for self-control every day. (Katy Perry is the LAST person I’d think would be praying for self-control, so I was shocked, and also a little envious at her brilliance for praying for something that could make all the difference in the course of one’s day.)

There’s also a matter of this verse, which God pulled into the conversation when I was talking with my high school small group girls last night about what faith in real life looks like. It’s from the new testament book of Galatians 5:22 & 23.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

I’m learning a few things as a result of my fast. One of them is this: I REALLY don’t like to tell myself no. And when it comes to food, I don’t know that I EVER really tell myself no. If I want it, I make it, buy it, drive to a restaurant and order it.

Should I be surprised then that my daughter does the same thing on a smaller scale?

I think Katy Perry is onto something.


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