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How would you handle this - child hiding candy

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I'm pretty liberal with sweets. My kids get a "treat of the day" each day. Sometimes it's a bowl of ice cream after dinner or a few dark chocolate dove squares, maybe a cookie etc.... There are times when they have a little more, sometimes a little less but, I really strive not to make food an issue.

We talk a lot about eating healthy, making healthy choices and that if we ate lots of healthy foods during the day then, a piece of chocolate or some ice cream is fine. But, that it's important we eat nutritious foods first and as our primary source of calories etc...

So, I have a cabinet that has a couple small bags of Dove dark chocolates. Tonight after dinner, the kids asked me if they could have their treat of the day. They both wanted chocolate. I said they could and they decided they wanted 3 pieces - I said fine.

So, we're getting ready for bed and my husband calls. I go in the other room to talk to him and come back into the kitchen to see my 8yo flying upstairs. I don't think anything about it but, follow her up because I have something to show her.

I get to her room and she's sitting on her bed looking completely guilty and then she holds out her hand and shows me some chocolate that she had taken out of the cabinet.

I simply said to her that she didn't need to sneak it or hide it from me - she could have just asked and I most likely would have told her she could have one more piece and then off to bed.

This DD has a serious sweet tooth. She asks for sugar constantly. I try not to make a huge issue out of it but, I'll explain to her that I'd rather she have some protein since she's heading off to school or I'll try to encourage her to have a cheese stick or some other snack if it's right before dinner. But, I really, really try not to make sugar a struggle.

So, she felt terrible and was tearful. I didn't try to make her feel guilty, just told her that she could have asked and didn't have to sneak. She tell me she's been sneaking it for a while.

So, I went downstairs and put all the candy in the house into a bowl on the kitchen table. I told her (and my other DD) that I'd rather they just eat the candy then feel like they had to sneak it. We talked about listening to your body and making healthy choices. We talked about how there's nothing wrong with some chocolate but, it's important to make healthy choices - to make sure that their day has been filled with healthy foods, lots of activity etc.... and if they can honestly say that they weren't active that day or they didn't eat so well then, maybe they need to rethink that extra candy. I told them that I'm going to trust that they know the right amount of candy for their bodies and that I'm hoping they'll listen to their bodies and act responsibly.

So, how would you have handled it? I'm at a loss. I struggle with my weight as does my mom. I remember my mom sneaking food and I desperately don't want that for my daughter. I try so hard to make food about nutrition and not make it a battle.

I just don't know the right way to handle it.

Oh and once that candy is gone, I'm not sure what I'll do at that point? Would you keep a bowl of candy and just let them have it? Not have it in the house at all? I don't know that I want to make it forbidden. Sigh......
post #2 of 16
i am not sure if you would like this... but i'd like to experiment. for the next week i'd keep filling in the candy bowl. maybe even two weeks. and then see what happens. i'd expect the bowl to be gone by the end of the day. for day 1, day 2.... by day 7 or 8 or even earlier i would expect them to slow down. but if you still find the bowl gone by the end of the 15th day, i would eventually stop buying them.

you DID an awesome job of how you handled things. i would not have done one thing different than what you have.

dd also enjoys when i give her the responsibility of making the decision. some days she desires sweets more than others. that is ok with me too. i do not judge her need of candy compared to mine because i desire none. yes she does have a sweet tooth.

somedays i overdid the candy with dd. or cake or icecream. like the other day. she had a whole pint. but those are sooo rare. she was the 2 year old who while others were devouring bday cake she would take two bites and no more. after getting aches and pains and a runny stomach she kinda stopped overdoing it by the time she was 5.

like she has had a whole bag of skittles maybe once or twice a year without me saying anything.
post #3 of 16
I think you handled it well, though I'm not a pro with 8-year-olds at this point.

If you want other ideas just for experimentation's sake, Ellyn Satter recommends putting the "treat of the day" on the plate with the rest of the meal (no seconds on the dessert though) and occasionally giving something like a plate of cookies or a piece of cake as a snack, with no comment about its being a treat. Meemee's idea sounds fine too.
post #4 of 16
I don't store this kind of stuff in the house. It's just too big a temptation. I let my dd have sweets, but I buy it pretty much when she can have it instead of having it sit in the house calling to her all day from the cupboard.
post #5 of 16
My ds likes to have a secret candy stash sometimes... I like that it is out of sight, rather than a bowl on the table, so he has to actually think of it and go get it. But a bowl of one type of candy would lose his interest after a day or two, anyway. He likes having control and not having candy doled out. I do try to feed him enough that he doesn't eat the candy just because he's hungry and it is the easiest thing for him to get, lol. I talk to him about portion sizes and alternating it with other foods (especially chocolate with higher fiber foods). I focus more on encouraging him to eat fruit and vegetables (since he's never been big on either) and let everything else fall where it may. I think he should master controlling and balancing his food now while he's young and he can't do that if I'm doling out certain types making them seem precious.
post #6 of 16
My dd has a candy stash. She doesn't eat it and gives pieces to me every so often. (I don't buy it. Our neighbor loves to give her and the baby candy.)
post #7 of 16
I like what you said and did. Ongoing, I give her more control -- like giving her whatever portion of candy is suitable for a week and let her decide when to eat herself. My dds are 5 and we recently did this with gum because I was tired of hearing requests for it and/or telling them to close the drawer it was kept in all day long. They both got 2 packs that is for the week and were told there wouldn't be more until the next week. One dd especially I expected would inhale it but she's been very spartan with herself and hasn't asked for any or gone into the gum drawer since.
post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for your thoughts!

4evermom - I see what you're saying. Maybe rather than a bowl out on the kitchen table where it would be seen the vast majority of the day, I'll put it in a kitchen drawer and simply tell them that they don't need to ask. That I trust they'll use the drawer responsibly.

I do also like the idea of a secret stash that's maybe filled with their candy for the week and they can do with it as they please.

I just don't want candy / sugar to be a battle. Heck, she was sneaking Dark Chocolate!!!! That's health food in my book so why she felt like she needed to sneak is beyond me.

We did talk more about it before bed because she's really struggling with guilt. She's such a "good girl". She rarely does anything wrong so for her, this is big. I'm trying to minimize it and not make it about the candy but rather stress that she doesn't have to hide it or sneak. She said she was too embarassed to ask for more. I don't get this and I asked her if she had asked me what she thought I would have said and she says she knows I would have said yes. So, I don't get the sneaking thing.

Anyway, I just stressed to her how much I loved her and how she can ask me anything, talk to me about anything. That she doesn't have to hide and sneak things - especially candy. She says she knows it was silly. So, things ended well.

So, we'll see how the free access to the candy goes. Although the reality is that they basically had free access before. It was right there and all they did was ask and I rarely ever said no.

But, at this point, I've told them they don't have to ask - I just encouraged them to act responsibly.
post #9 of 16
Was a sibling maybe hassling her in some way so that she didn't want to ask for more candy in front of them?
post #10 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by amcal View Post
Thank you all for your thoughts!

4evermom - I see what you're saying. Maybe rather than a bowl out on the kitchen table where it would be seen the vast majority of the day, I'll put it in a kitchen drawer and simply tell them that they don't need to ask. That I trust they'll use the drawer responsibly.

I do also like the idea of a secret stash that's maybe filled with their candy for the week and they can do with it as they please.

I just don't want candy / sugar to be a battle. Heck, she was sneaking Dark Chocolate!!!! That's health food in my book so why she felt like she needed to sneak is beyond me.

We did talk more about it before bed because she's really struggling with guilt. She's such a "good girl". She rarely does anything wrong so for her, this is big. I'm trying to minimize it and not make it about the candy but rather stress that she doesn't have to hide it or sneak. She said she was too embarassed to ask for more. I don't get this and I asked her if she had asked me what she thought I would have said and she says she knows I would have said yes. So, I don't get the sneaking thing.

Anyway, I just stressed to her how much I loved her and how she can ask me anything, talk to me about anything. That she doesn't have to hide and sneak things - especially candy. She says she knows it was silly. So, things ended well.

So, we'll see how the free access to the candy goes. Although the reality is that they basically had free access before. It was right there and all they did was ask and I rarely ever said no.

But, at this point, I've told them they don't have to ask - I just encouraged them to act responsibly.
I wonder if she thought you'd be disappointed in her making the "wrong choice" if she asked for more. You talk to her about the health side of food, and perhaps she feels pressure to do the "right thing". So it's not that she was afraid that you would say no, but perhaps she knew what you would prefer, and felt she would disappoint you by wanting more sweets.
post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
No, the other DD didn't have anything to do with it.

But, yes, she could have been worried about making the wrong choice. But, while we talk about health, I don't harp on it. We do at times eat foods that maybe aren't the healthiest - pizza, chicken strips etc.... so she knows I'm not health obsessed. And, I can't even think of a time (and neither can she) that she'd ask and I'd say no without good reason like it's right before dinner or some such. So, I can see that she'd be worried about disappointing me because she worries about that all the time even though, I rarely ever show her disappointment nor do I have overly high expectations but, she has them of herself. Hmmm.....you've given me food for thought.
post #12 of 16
I think you did great. My DD is only 3 and we're really just experimenting with the idea of her self-regulating her sweets--I'm trying what Ellen Sattyr suggests about putting out a plate of something every so often. Today we made brownies--a very rare event. I cut a bunch of small squares, put them on the plate and put them on the table. We both ate a lot of brownies and the thing I noticed most was my own anxiety starting to creep in as she ate one piece after another. The squares I had cut were really small, but what she ate added up to 2 modest sized brownies and I wasn't able to let her go on. I totally get that it was my own anxiety that got in the way of letting the experiment finish. I bring that all up just to get out there the idea of how our own food issues/concerns/feelings impact the relationship with our kids and food. But I really can't think of anything else you could have done in your situation--I really hope I handle it that well when I see that situation come up.
post #13 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by amcal View Post
Hmmm.....you've given me food for thought.
me too. i have a dd like that too.

one of hte things that dd keeps asking me is for validation about her choices. so i always remind her they are HER choices. with anything. it doesnt matter.

she asks me if she disappointed me. esp. with food. and i tell her its your body. you are the one who'se going to suffer. there is no question about disappointment. you are a big girl now. you can make these decisions on your own. yeah sometimes i am disappointed. but then i am disappointed in my own self too. so what's teh big deal with my disappointment.

sometimes when i do things she asks me if i wonder hwo others will react. and i tell her while i am mindful of not hurting anyone, sometimes i gotta do what i gotta do. and if others dont like it, well that's not really my problem. that is judgement. not support.

we keep having these conversations back and forth. but i definitely do think my dd pays much closer attention to what i do and how i say, more than she lets on.

even though we have these conversations, i think its more her way to see what i am thinking. but she is looking at what i do to see if i do practise what i preach. because she has called on me a few times for doing something differently.

we kinda do things together too. like when we were on an elimination diet i did it with her out of respect so she wouldnt want what i was having. yet in the same vein she tries to say 'well if you can stay up late so can i.' uhhmmm.... nope!!! not when we have to leave early the next am.
post #14 of 16
I think you did EXACTLY the right thing. And I like the idea of leaving it out on the table for free access. My philosophy regarding kids and food is that if you don't make food a big deal, it won't become a big deal. By doing what you did and by switching to a free access candy bowl, you are making it so that having a piece or two or three of chocolate is not a big deal.

For me, I personally just don't have candy in the house. But that's because I feel like it's a waste of money. Well, that and my Dh doesn't have the ability to control himself, but thats a seperate issue. What I mean though is that, if you don't want them to have it, I think it's better to just not have it in the house, rather than to have it, but restrict access. Because the restriction makes it a bigger deal than it needs to be.
post #15 of 16
I don't generally keep candy in the house, but I have been buying dark chocolate chips lately. We put them in our homemade trail mix, which is usually different nuts, seeds, dried fruit, maybe some shredded coconut, and then some dark chocolate. Or the kids sprinkle some in their yogurt. I find if they eat the chocolate in their trail mix or yogurt they are usually content with a smaller amount and don't get craving, "I gotta have more", reaction. Maybe because they have having protein with it?

The kids love coming up with new combos for our mix, dumping the ingredients and mixing them up. It might be a fun thing for you and your kids to do. And you could see if adding a little protein to her chicolate snack helps cut her sweet tooth, while still giving her a little treat.
post #16 of 16
I think you handled it well. I will say that I think leaving candy out in a bowl is a bad idea. I read a study not too long ago that showed that people ate more often and more quantity of sweets if they were left out on a counter than if they were in a cabinet. I think it proves that most people have less self-control than we like to think.
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