Kids Are Conditioned to Eat for Happiness

Ashley - apopka, Florida
Entered on December 9, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

The stewardess informed everyone to turn off electronics. The man ignored her and continued to let his daughter watch the movie. Noticing this the flight attendant approached the man and his daughter.

“Sir, please turn off all electronics for take off. You can turn them back on when the captain say’s so.”

“Okay” the man replied and then leaned toward his daughter. In a pleading voice he said, “Honey, I need you to put that away for take off. You will be able to turn it back on in a little bit.”

“No daddy! I want to keep it on.” She retorted with tear’s starting to pinch out of her eyes.

This is when the fun began. She cried and pleaded with her dad to leave it on. He reminded her that she knew it would have to be turned off. The dad was trying to quiet her but was not successful. Through her pouted lips and tears I could not understand a word she said. In an attempt to calm her, he asked his daughter if she wanted some juice. She then sat up a little, stopped crying and said yes. The dad pulled out the juice and all of the sudden she was a cute, happy little girl again. Silence was restored and peace was made.

As I sat in the plan waiting for take off, I thought about that little girl and her father, and I began to realize what had just happened. The little girl had become unhappy and to restore her happiness the father bribed her with a substance that would not only please her taste buds but occupy her mind as well.

Could this in fact be a form of conditioning? Is he conditioning this little girl to eat or drink something if she becomes upset of unhappy? Not only is this the case for this little girl but for many kids. I believe that some people are conditioned as children to eat or drink if they are sad. Pavlov’s theory of classical conditioning is a type of learning in which an organism comes to associate stimuli. In this case the child is the organism and the stimuli is the food, which stops the child from crying.

I believe humans don’t realize how easily habits come about and how fast one can be conditioned to something. When I am upset all I can think about is curling up in front of a T.V. with a box of pizza and a tub of ice cream. I think that this demonstration of the little girl helps display a problem caused by conditioning that people may have never realized. Eating brings a sense of comfort and parents have justified that to be okay. Parents do this by feeding a child to sooth them, and these eating habits could lead to obesity. This problem needs to be addressed and new methods need to be instilled into children for dealing with their frustrations.