My four year old daughter took a ballet dancing class today. It was adorable. All the girls stood in their shiny leotards and soft ballet skirts, twirling around and smiling. All except for one, that is. There was one girl who looked very different from the others. Her face was round, her arms were pudgy, and her belly was, well, protruding. Needless to say, she did not have a smile on her face. Immediately, my heart went out to her.
During the class, this girl’s mother came over to speak to me. “I understand you work with overweight kids,” she told me. “Yes, I do.” “I think I need help,” she said. “That’s one of the reasons I enrolled her in this class. I want her to move around a bit. She usually prefers to sit down and watch TV. I am so glad she is getting some exercise.”
While her mother was right in suggesting a more active after-school activity, I couldn’t help but think that the girls were getting very little movement in the class. Because it is such a beginner’s class, they were mostly learning moves and practicing them once or twice. Nobody in the class broke a sweat or got out of breath. In other words, you couldn’t consider this an “exercise” class. But it definitely is better than watching TV.
But I got where the mom was coming from. There are so few activities for kids that give them the kind of vigorous exercise recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. We really need more outlets for our children to exercise. But that’s another blog in itself…
So- back to dance class. As the girls were let out, I noticed that they were each holding a piece of chocolate! What?? Why?? That small piece of chocolate contained many more calories than what they burned through the class. What was the point of giving out chocolate after a dance class? The fact the the class is held in a gym just makes it more ridiculous.
I was livid. Why must everything come back to chocolate? Does a child need to be rewarded for a minimum amount of exercise? Will our kids expect to eat chocolate every time they break a sweat? Isn’t this defeating the purpose? What’s wrong with giving out stickers, like they had done the previous weeks?
I know that the teacher was trying to be nice. And I know my parents are trying to be nice when they take my kids for sundaes. And, hey, even I am trying to be nice when I take my kids for frozen yogurt. But ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! We can not start rewarding exercise with chocolate. It is absolutely unacceptable. Our good intentions, special treats, and fattening rewards are only making our kids heavier than ever! This has to end. You can bet I will be calling the dance class first thing tomorrow to complain.
I felt sick when I saw the look on the heavy girl’s mother’s face. Here she was making an effort to get her child healthy and it was completely sabotaged. She just looked at me and said, “It just isn’t easy…” And she is right.
What do you all think? Do you agree or disagree?