22 answers

How to Teach Sweets in Moderation

My almost 3 year old daughter is a great eater for the most part - loves her veggies, fruits, and even a plain rice cake. I want to teach her sweets in moderation and not have them be completely off limits. They were off limits for me growing up and the first thing I did when I went to college was eat every forbidden food I could get my hands on. My freshman 15 was more like 40. My daughter has recently discovered how yummy birthday cake, ice cream, etc. are. I am really fumbling for how to teach "occasional" and "once in a while" to her. I think these concepts are just over her head right now. We do model good eating habits, but I'd like something better to tell her when she asks for chocolate repeatedly than just no. Any great ideas?

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Just like most things, instead of saying "no," just say that you can have some when we ... (think of the next opportunity that you would allow her to have some). And then add that it is not healthy to eat it everyday. Keep it short and simple.

Do the same for playing with something that is not appropriate at that time. Say that you can play with that when .... I think we say "no" way too often and then they just think it is a word that limits their fun instead of there being a reason like safety or health.

Sounds like you are doing a great job!

1 mom found this helpful

GO out to eat sweets, like to a bakery or candy store. So it is a treat and a trip, but it is also something you only do occasionally.

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers

Phrases that I used a lot were :

- You already had a treat today. Remember? You had _______. Tomorrow, if you like, sure.

- Absolutely! But only a little. It's a treat.

Treats range from

- fruit with _____ , including pies and tarts, but also creme fraiche/ honey yogurt/ whipped cream/ candied (plain fruit isn't a treat, BUT we eat fruit seasonly, so different types are treat-like as they come into season).

- brownies/ cakes/ other bakeable items

- chips/ fast food/ prepackaged whatever (aka savory treats)

- holiday fair (latkes, puddings, nog, "happy" cake -aka bday cake-, mochi, etc.)

- hotweather treats (icecream, mochi icecream, popsicles, etc.)

- cold weather treats (ciders, mac'n'cheese, etc.)

At 8yo, it's stuck. We usually have at least one treat a day, but at any point from breakfast to bedtime. And only one, because tomorrow is another day to look forward to. We'll see how everything else goes.

1 mom found this helpful

You're on the right track. Sweets and treats should be "special" food for little people. Only keep on hand what you will allow, and set limits. Maybe Saturday could be a day when you have treats. Maybe one little thing a day with a snack or meal as dessert. Decide what and when, then just keep telling her what the rules are when she asks. "No, its not time for chocolate now. We'll have a piece after dinner," or however you want to space it. Just be calm and specific, and you'll do fine. Birthday parties are a whole other issue of course. If you're there for the party, just keep her to one piece of cake and one scoop of ice cream.

1 mom found this helpful

GO out to eat sweets, like to a bakery or candy store. So it is a treat and a trip, but it is also something you only do occasionally.

1 mom found this helpful

Just like most things, instead of saying "no," just say that you can have some when we ... (think of the next opportunity that you would allow her to have some). And then add that it is not healthy to eat it everyday. Keep it short and simple.

Do the same for playing with something that is not appropriate at that time. Say that you can play with that when .... I think we say "no" way too often and then they just think it is a word that limits their fun instead of there being a reason like safety or health.

Sounds like you are doing a great job!

1 mom found this helpful

Maybe don't keep it in your home unless its a special occasion. Then if she doesn't see it then she won't ask for it. I don't know if you keep it at your home or not, but that's the only thing I can think of.

We call treats a "sometimes" food. And we just mention how it's nice to have, but our bodies wouldn't like it all the time. Now that my son is 4 1/2 we can talk more seriously about healthy choices. He seems to be understanding it very well, it's funny to hear him try to explain it to his 22 mo sister.

Just tell her, she is old enough to catch on. I call all things sugar "treats". When she asks for treats I just tell her that treats are not for every day, they are for once in a while, that we can't eat lots of treats because they aren't good for us. I will continue to explain it this way. I know she will catch on though she may still request them incessantly.

I don't think she's too young to learn this behavior. My dd loves sweets, she's 7, and because we've always taught her to make good choices, from the beginning, she'll often say no to sweets on her own. She's been carrying a chocolate chip cookie around (in a wrapper) in her luch box all week. We let her go nuts on candy for Halloween (and she tires of it) other than that, we only occasionally allow her to have it. For the first two years, we gave her none. Not even when grandma waved a lollipop in her face was she allowed to accept it. First we taught her to say no. Then we let up and allowed her to have the occasional sweet. Now she makes decisions about moderation. My son is pretty similar, but we weren't as strict with him in the first 2 years. He's 3.5 now and likes sweets, but doesn't go nuts. He knows there are limits and he knows why. I explain the science behind all of these things to my kids. The one upshot is they really understand science and how their bodies work and the "why" behind what I say.

Good job for wanting to teach moderation. Good luck to you.

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