When Is It OK to Manipulate Our Kids?

My children like kids' meals (though we usually skimp and piece a meal together). Can you blame them? It has a toy! As if they don't have enough...

But I was intrigued by a recent study that indicated that children can be influenced to make healthier food choices, by marketing it with fictional superheroes.

So, here's my question: Is it right or wrong to manipulate our kids like this? Shouldn't we be giving them more direction, instead of subtle manipulation?

On the other hand, maybe this is a good way to counter all the marketing that our children see, that show that all kinds of unhealthy stuff is "cool." (Ever notice that your preschooler can recognize the symbols for Coke, McDonald's, Chick-fil-A, and Target, even before he can read?)

Or maybe the answer is age-dependent -- that at younger ages children need more direction, while older ones need more influence.

(And even if we do "manipulate," we still need to couple that with teaching self-control. A preschooler who can delay gratification tends to have a lower body mass index (BMI) as an adult.)

What are your thoughts?

Related Links:
**image from the Cornell article linked above


  1. We parent in this area towards making good choices regarding food. Although, we do say things to our son like, "this milk will make your bones string and healthy...that way you can be strong like daddy!" that does the trick every time. While it still is true, it is manipulative in a sense. But helping them make good choices about their food (and our food as patents....because they do watch and see) is definitely key. When we aren't around we still want our children to be aware of exercising self-control and knowing what they ate putting into their bodies.

    1. Great points. I especially like how you are planning for the future -- for when they will be with you less and less.