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Hey Pediatrician, No Candy for My Kid!

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Why is it that the doctor's office is synonymous with "I get candy"?

doctor with lollipop

Ronda Kaysen: It was 10 AM, and my son and I were at the doctor's office for a flu shot. He was brave. He took his shot like a big boy. And then he looked at me, his eyes wide with anticipation, and uttered the dreaded word: "Lollipop?"

I had a choice: indulge his whim and offer up one of the myriad lollipops awaiting him like kiddie crack, or hold my ground and say that no, mid-morning is no time for a dose of sugar and food coloring.

"You can have a sticker," I offered.

We all know how that scenario went down. Fifteen minutes later, when he was still wailing in my arms, writhing and moaning and refusing to get into his car seat, I was beginning to wonder if maybe I'd made a mistake.

That was until the nurse who gave him his shot showed up. "What's the matter, sweetheart?" she asked, in that saccharine sweet mommy-must-not-know-what-she's-doing voice.

"He wants a lollipop," I said through clenched teeth. "But breakfast is no time for candy."

Rather than take a hint, she marched right up to my impulse-driven 2 1/2-year-old and said, "How about I get you a lollipop for later? Mommy can hold onto it for you."

A crane couldn't have lifted my jaw from the parking lot concrete.

Of course, the tears ceased and my status plummeted from mean mommy to downright evil. His savior in baby blue scrubs, meanwhile, scurried off to get him his fix. If it were legal in the state of New Jersey, I would have strangled her right then and there.

Let's step back from the obvious absurdity of a stranger undermining a moment of parenting and discuss another absurd situation: Why does the doctor's office peddle lollipops in the first place? Are they trying to drum up business for the neighborhood dentist? Are they looking to find ways to worsen the obesity epidemic? Or are they merely hoping to send a child into a sugar-induced manic state for the pure fun of watching mom melt down?

Going to the doctor is no fun. But the message you send when you dole out candy for getting your throat examined is that taking care of your body is something that deserves a reward -- and a reward that does your body harm, no less.

I can't walk into the hardware store, let alone a gas station or pharmacy, without being bombarded with sugary treats for my toddler to rot his teeth on. Every time I set foot in the dry cleaner's, I have to brace myself for the inevitable fight over whether or not 9 AM is an appropriate time for a Hershey's Kiss. The last time I told my son no, the attendant offered him a lollipop instead. I could scream. Why does anyone, let alone a growing child, need a Hershey's Kiss before noon? And what is it with the lollipops, people? Why must every shop clerk have a bowl of lollipops beside his cash register like candy is some sort of basic necessity?

But it's the doctor's office that really gets under my skin. The pediatrician should be a refuge from the endless offerings kids are taunted with on a near hourly basis. It should be a safe haven where they're shown how to make good food choices and be rewarded in healthy ways for taking care of their bodies, not simply another way station for them to get their candy fix.

When the nurse returned with an orange lollipop in hand, she looked thrilled. After all, she'd made the child stop crying, which I guess is more important than making sure he makes it through adolescence without type II diabetes. "Here," she said. "I'll put it in mommy's pocket for you to have in the car."

My son dutifully climbed into his car seat, awaiting his treat. "You can have it after dinner," I told him as I buckled him in, bracing myself for a new set of tears that would drown out the sound of all the expletives racing through my head.

next: Walmart Scares the Children
13 comments so far | Post a comment now
older mom January 26, 2010, 9:45 AM

You’re feeding into it just as the nurses are. If you don’t want your children to get any candy, then either tell them that as soon as you go into the office or maybe you can put on your “big girl panties” and just say NO to your child when offered. You need to get used to that word because there will be many of things you kid will cry for and you need to know how to say no.

mom of 3 January 26, 2010, 11:11 AM

I have 3 kids and they rarely ever have treats. I have taken them to stores, etc and hardly any places have lollipops. Maybe the bank? If they offer it then I let them have it. I mean the lollipop cant have much more sugar then a bowl of coco puffs or other sugary cereals. Not that my kids eat that stuff but anyways. Life is short- if you think that is too much sugar then they probably have too much sugar in the rest of their diet. It’s not like they go for their shots every week.

lindsay January 26, 2010, 12:16 PM

I agree with the author, sugar is peddled to kids seemingly endlessly. However, I wear my ‘big girl panties’ (love that expression, btw) everyday, so when it comes up, I simply say, “no thank you, our family doesn’t eat processed sugar and hfcs”. But we’re freaks like that I guess. ;)

Rachel January 26, 2010, 12:36 PM

I agree with the general idea of the first two posters. If you don’t want your kids to have candy at the doctor’s office, maybe you should express that concern up front. By now, it’s obvious that your child expects it, so you haven’t really established any boundaries with anyone - your child or the doctor. I’m going to assume that since you’re so concerned with your child’s health that you won’t allow an occassional treat, your trips to the pediatrician are rare anyway, right? Chances are, a lollipop or two per year isn’t going to rot your child’s teeth or cause them to have diabetes. You might be on the road to giving yourself an ulcer before he’s out of the carseat the way you worry about stuff like this, however…

Sara January 26, 2010, 12:38 PM

My Dr gives stickers. Two if you get blood drawn.

If it’s such a big deal then choose another Dr.

However, teaching your kid how to deal with things like that without a tantrum is part of being a parent.

Pamala January 26, 2010, 1:31 PM

I don’t know if my daughter’s pediatrician has lolipops at all, they just do stickers. Her Endocrinologist carries them (the gall!) sugar free of course. LOL!

Seriously life is freaking short, one lolipop isn’t going to kill the child. I mean how often you seeing a doctor? My daughter sees her doctors (yeah multiple ones) every 2 months. And one lolipop per visit. And she gets none in between. One lolipop isn’t so bad now is it?

Maryann January 26, 2010, 2:56 PM

There are more important things in life, and your child’s life than the occasional lolipop.
One doesn’t become obese or get type II diabetes from a lolipop from the doctors office— the sugary cereals, the sodas at school, the ice cream and chips and endless pizza at the cafeteria. Those, I think, are the things that are adding to the rise in obesity in our children.
I think if anything schools and parents need to crack down on the other everyday “food” kids are putting in their mouths.
The occasional lolipop is the furthest from the culprit.

Rita January 26, 2010, 4:26 PM

Wow. Unclench. Seriously.

MomofTwo January 26, 2010, 11:28 PM

I’m with you on this. No, one lollipop won’t cause obesity or Type II diabetes… but constant access to “treats” everywhere kids turn, and teaching kids that acts of compliance that used to be expected as routine now deserve a reward and preferably a high calorie, sugary one, will. It’s hard enough dealing with the inevitable upset of a shot without having to take on the tantrum of the denied treat too, and exhausting to repeat the experience several times a day (to the poster who accused Ronda of not having established “boundaries”… have you met a 2 1/5 year old? It’s their job description to trample on every boundary.)

Talk to your pediatrician about getting rid of the lollipops. If he/she won’t, change your pediatrician to one who understands what obesity is doing to our kids. And then chill… you’re obviously making good, healthy, informed choices and in a year or two your child will be passing the candy boxes with only the occasional protest.

rugbymom January 27, 2010, 11:12 AM

LMBO older mom! We don’t allow much sugar for our children either, and often at the bank we simply say no. But after getting a shot in the arm,usually after which I’m nauseous and in tears too (pretty wimpy about that sort of thing), I think they deserve a stinking sucker and so do I! Ha, ha!

Thanita January 28, 2010, 8:08 AM

It’s unfortunate that we are such a food driven nation.

cna certification February 9, 2011, 2:08 AM

Images removed? I see red XXX

CNA Certifications February 9, 2011, 2:09 AM

Sorry for going off topic, but this page looks like crap on my ipad. Any suggestions?

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