Eating sweets and treats - Betsy Brown Braun
Though most parents agree that they don't want sweets to play a big part in their children's lives - and they know the deal with sweets, nutrition, and dental health - somehow it just always creeps in and becomes a problem.
No matter what you serve children and what rules you set up, if desserts and sweets are a big part of your life, your children will get the message about the role that sweets play. This doesn't mean that your child will grow up to be a sweetaholic, but it's pretty darned likely that sugar will play a starring role.
Metabolism plays a part in everyone's consumption of food. It also has a role in one's desire for sweets. Some children are less interested in sweets than their peers; others absolutely crave them. We do know that there is an addictive quality to sweets: just try to cut sugar out of your life!
As with all people, each child has a unique eating style and habits. Some children are able to delay gratification; but most have a hard time doing so. Some children eat sweets and still eat nutritious food. Others eat sweets and then refuse healthier fare. It is important to keep your child's particular style in mind when deciding if and when to offer sweets.
Do not use sweets (or food) of any kind as a reward or as first aid.In doing so you may inadvertently set the child up to need to be rewarded or soothed with a sweet. Sweets are then given emotional significance. This is different from having a celebratory meal for an accomplishment or a milestone.
The One-Sweet-a-Day Rule.For children who constantly ask for sweets, a good idea is to limit the sweets to one per day. Allow your child to choose the sweet whenever he wants it. He can have it at 6am when he awakens, at morning snack, or before bedtime. It is his choice.
Limit the sweets that are on hand.If your cupboard is filled with sweets, cookies, and candies, it will be really hard for your child to focus on other foods. If you don't have any sweets in the house, he'll just have to pick something else. There'll be some complaining, but what's new about that?
Beware of the 'How much do I have to eat in order to eat dessert?' trap.If eating dinner is all about getting to dessert, you child will hardly taste what he is eating, let alone learn to enjoy it. For some people this is a radical notion, but here it is: eliminate dessert. That way there is no bargaining for sweets at mealtime. Dinner needs to be about dinner. Your child needs to learn to eat until he has had enough and be done. It is his choice, not yours.