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Kids and Sweets – How Does a Parent Cope?

14/06/2013 | Child Health, Nutrition, Parent Health, Room to Grow | by Catherine Godiva

If you think about it, you really don’t stand much chance of keeping your children away from sweets.  Children are cynically targeted by marketing campaigns and despite recent changes about the placement of sweets at supermarket tills, supermarket displays put sweets on display throughout the store so on a busy Friday evening when you are doing your “Big shop” it is hard to avoid putting temptation in your children’s way. Coping with the ever increasing availability of sweets needs a parent to be able to plan with military precision and to execute those plans with a steely focus and what follows are some ideas that might help with the task.

Teach them the right habits – eating sweets is all about habit. Provide them with snack foods that are healthy and less sugar laden. We often use sweets as a reward and it is good to reward good behaviour but try to find another favourite treat or snack to use as a reward.  If you can identify a particular favourite, make it extra special by only using it as a reward.  The fewer sweets you give your child the less they will demand them.

Avoid temptation – that’s temptation for you as well as for them. We often give sweets to children to keep them quiet. That’s why supermarkets put displays of brightly coloured sweets and chocolate around the store. Avoid the temptation on that busy “big shop” to give them sweets to “keep them quiet”. You are creating a bigger problem for tomorrow and more importantly with all that sugar they will certainly not be quiet.

It’s a rarely known fact that people tend to eat food not because they are hungry but because they are dehydrated, they simply misread the signs their tummy is sending out.  The same can be said for children. It is all too easy to find that your children are not drinking enough and respond to this by demanding sweet to eat.  Watch their eating and drinking and provide them with a constant supply of drinks. Avoid carbonated drinks at all costs as they just reinforce the craving for sweet things. Keep a supply of plain water in the fridge. Fresh cold water is very appealing to any child who is thirsty. If you want to add a bit of flavour then put a slice of lemon or orange into the water to add an edge.

Setting an example is also a good way to handle the problem of sweets and children. They might be expensive chocolates and you might be good at restricting yourself to one or two when the kids have hit the sack but as far as the children are concerned you are eating sweets but not letting them do the same. If your no sweets regime is to have any credibility you have to lead from the front as a military person might say. Set the example and it will be much easier to say no without creating resentment or tantrums.

No matter how resolute you are you will need a range of alternatives to sweets as part of your armoury. Look to Mother Nature for your best alternatives and you won’t go far wrong. Fruits can make perfect little packages for hungry kids so a small plastic bag in your handbag can hold a variety of small mini-hand sized treats.  Dates, figs and a selection of nuts as well as small tangerines and apples are perfect for keeping your children occupied and far more healthy.

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