I always thought I’d be one of those mothers who fed her kids balanced, diverse, and exciting meals. This would result in, of course, children who ate everything, were never picky, and had a disdain for all processed, packaged, and fast food. Wasn’t I adorable?
Yeah, that’s not how things go down in my house. More often than not, it’s a mad scramble — right after my kids tell me they’re hungry. I make them something quick or team up with a friend, finding some sort of protein, and chop up some raw veggies as a side dish (I call them crudités to make it fancy). And, although my kids Halloween candy lasts a year and their Easter chocolate has long been forgotten at the back of the cupboard, they still want something sweet and sugary every day.
I asked a few parents how they handle the sweet teeth in their house. Should kids be allowed to have some candy or a treat every day?
Olivia Scobie, parent of two, ages 12 and 8
My kids get a treat every day. They don’t have any food restrictions. I opted for the ‘there are no bad foods: some foods nourish our bodies, some nourish our souls, and some do both” kind of mentality. Also, they make a lot of their own snacks, so it would be hard to have restrictions when they are in charge.
The kids get their own breakfast every morning. My 12-year-old makes his own lunch (my 8-year-old gets a hot lunch from daycare), we all take turns making dinner, and the kids have free range over what snacks they eat but they have to get their own.
Overall, they make pretty good choices. The older one doesn’t really like sugary snacks – or any snack — he just sticks to his meals. The younger one has a sweet tooth and will often have something treat-like every day. But he only really has access to what we buy, so he is limited to whatever we have on hand. Cereal, those chocolate covered granola bars, marshmallows, popsicles — that kind of stuff.
Alana Nugent, parent of a 10-year-old
We parent a highly sensitive, emotional child and recognized early on that things like sugar and screens have a very extreme impact on her. With sugar, our daughter loses her ability to concentrate and regulate her emotions. She is now able to identify in her body when the sugar is taking over. We don’t allow soda pop or juice either. Soda pop is for VERY special occasions and usually only half a can.
It’s water all day, every day and I find it really fascinating that she CHOOSES water. Even when out for dinner, she’ll ask our server for water unless we have given the green light for a ‘fun’ drink like a Shirley Temple or a root beer that we know has no caffeine in it.
We have found that by allowing treats once in a while and then talking about any tantrums that follow (when they do) that she is able to recognize her limits and eats a very responsible amount of ice cream/cake/candy when it is presented to her. Interestingly, on our family vacation, we decided to let loose and allowed her treats (chips, ONE pop, candy) daily and she started feeling like she NEEDED it everyday. As soon as she started communicating this NEED for it (it was really scary and activating for us as it resembled addiction) we went back to the usual, no treats and added a “don’t even ask for them.”
She also struggles with physical activity. It doesn’t appeal to her, and it worries us that she isn’t building the bone density and muscle tone now that will benefit her as she ages and matures, so we are also pretty intense about veggies, protein and fruits to compensate for her general unwillingness to move her body. Some of our family and friends think we’re a bit nuts with how intense we are but avoiding the emotional mess that comes afterwards is worth it for us.
Where do you stand? Should we allow our kids one sugary treat a day?