4 Year Old Too Focused on Sweets???

Updated on December 08, 2010
E.D. asks from North Reading, MA
10 answers

Maybe a silly question, but how focused are your kids on getting desserts?? My daughter loves, loves them (who doesn't really) but I am not sure if it is problematic or normal. We try to limit sweets/treats to the weekend. She is a picky eater already (no vegetables, no meat, no fish, no beans just mac/cheese, yogurt, fruits etc) and if she knows there's treats in the house, she starts dinner by saying "how many bites do I have to eat to be done?" We went to a birthday party where a huge piece of cake was on everyone's plate. Most of the kids ate some and went to play. She ate the whole thing, a cup of fruit punch and a Hoodsie and then asked for another Hoodsie (I said no and she was ok with it). I just want her to have a healthy relationship with food and sweets and I am not sure how to achieve this. Thanks for your thoughts!

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from Boise on

I wouldn't do the "how many bites to be done" thing, but otherwise, sounds normal to me. My son knows that we do the advent calendar after dinner. All of a sudden, he is "done" (he is 2.5). About 15 minutes later though, he wonders back over because he really is still hungry. If you are okay with the sweet, how about a small piece for a snack, that way sweets are a goal.

More Answers



answers from Detroit on

It sounds pretty normal to me...the thing is, kids really do not understand limits and that is why parents need to establish them. To some degree, nature programs all of us to prefer sweets and fats over anything else. If you don't like the fact that she is trying to figure out a minimal amount of "good food" to eat before getting her dessert, then maybe it's time to not have desserts and other treats in the house, period. Then she'll just have to eat what she decides to eat in front of her and if she gets hungry later, she can still have something else that is healthy. Sweets can still be a once-in-a-great-while thing, rather than a weekend thing. Then if she overindulges at a party, it's not a huge deal.

I would be more worried about food issues if food becomes a source of comfort, a way to avoid dealing with negative feelings, and is used to make her happy when she gets disappointed about something - "Aw, you didn't make the cheer squad? Here, have a brownie."

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I've worried about that too with my oldest. Since my youngest isn't as focused and they're close in age, obviously raised the same etc, I now figure it's just how people's taste buds and chemical make-ups work. My daughter has been more on the heavy side since birth so I've just done my best to limit her sweets intake while not making it such an issue it causes problems later (hopefully). I don't think there's a lot you can do, you will just have to set the rules you deem appropriate and then as the previous post said, I'd be careful of giving sweets as comfort. It's so natural and I do it for myself but whenever I start to do it for my daughter, I try to catch myself. As well, I talk about proper nutrition often, explain how a lot of junk food makes you unhealthy etc. Btw - I do think having sweets drives the desire for more. So I heavily dilute fruit juice etc.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I'd just add that you need to get Jessica Seinfeld's cookbook and get some new foods into your child - sneak them in! She has 2 books and they are easy recipes. I'd also take away the negotiating - that you aren't turning meals into a battleground, and I'd take out all the sweets until she eats. That will get rid of the daily begging. There just aren't any because they aren't good for you. It's a birthday party thing and that's it. You can also turn healthy treats into sweet desserts if you don't want to ban them altogether.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

My kids were like that, too. EVERYTHING was about getting to dessert. Any outing with the family centered around "what treats are we going to get?", etc. So I removed ALL sweets and desserts altogether and instituted Sweet Saturday. I told them "don't even ask for dessert or sweets during the week because you WILL NOT get any, but on Saturday, we will ALL have a special treat". It's been a great success - the kids are eating more fruit instead of cookies and planning our Saturday treat has been pretty fun, too. Sometimes we make something together, other times we go out for our treat. I've also joined them in cutting out desserts and sweets during the week so I'm not a hypocrite. It's been surprisingly easy and makes dinnertime battles a thing of the past - they eat until they're satisfied, knowing that no matter what they do, there is no dessert to bargain for.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

My 4 year old's sweet tooth has definitely exploded over the past 6 months too. However, You ought to use it to your advantage--We have no picky eater issues or excuses here. We've told her, "if you want a treat after dinner then you need to make a happy plate". Granted she has her ketchup--which is her condiment of choice for everything from asparagus and broccoli to eggs, pork and whole wheat noodles. And I don't give too large of sweets after dinner or force her to eat, but if she eats well then I'm okay with giving her a little bit of ice-cream, small candy piece, etc.

We also don't have that much juice. She prefers water over milk, so that's what she usually has with a meal.

Mac & Cheese is so high in fat and sodium. The fat and sodium amounts on the box are calculated based on an adult's nutritional needs. The % it gives in sodium, calories and fat for a child is much higher than what is on the box. I think her picky eater mentality should be more of a concern than her sweet tooth.



answers from Boston on

I have similar issues with my eldest who is now seven. Basically, it was about at this age that I began talking to her about the food groups and nutrition. I stressed that she needs to have something from each group every day but that sweets and chips are only sometimes foods. If she wants a snack, I encourage her to choose a healthy snack. She does have sweets and chips though, but I try to keep a handle on it.
You can't tke the sweet tooth out of a kid, or even an adult, but you can try to reason with it. Perhaps as a general rule, I would teach her (and I don't mean to offend - I've been in these sticky situations too) to not ask for seconds when she's a guest and just do as the others do.
I've also found that the Berenstain Bear's Too Much Junk Food is a good tool to aid in these discussions.
Good Luck.


answers from Los Angeles on

As Dr. Phil might say, that horse left the barn a long long time ago.
Clearly her attitude toward food and desserts is way out of line.
I haven't yet read the other answers.

I imagine you'll get some creative and helpful suggestions,
and presume you'll find one or more ideas to help you out of this mess.

If it were me, I'd sit down w/DD and have a big girl meeting.
I would explain about food, about nutrition, about what the body does
with our food, etc. Come to think of it, I'd probably get
some appropriate books from the library with explanations
and charts and pictures of the INSIDES of our bodies.

I would let her know that from now on, in our house,
we will FIRST take care of our nutrition and health needs.
And then and only then, we will consider treats.
That there will be no more negotiating about treats.
And that she will need to cooperate about health and nutrition needs
before she will be allowed to have sweets. Period. End of sentence.

Make up a chart together . . . . proteins, carbs, etc.
Maybe cut out pictures from magazines together.
Lots of different vegetables, lots of different fruits.
Maybe go slow regarding protein . . . .
do some experimentation w/chicken, fish, other mild-flavored items,
to see whether she seems to show a preference . . . .
or, at least, less strident rejection.

This is going to require at least a week, maybe more,
of trial+error but I do believe you and she can accomplish
this together.
It will be helpful, of course, if you (and other adults, older children, if any)
show enthusiasm and pleasure about a wide variety of foods.

Let us know how it goes, please.


answers from San Francisco on

I thought that was normal? As long as you are maintaining control of her diet I would not worry.



answers from Springfield on

i watched an interesting pbs show while I was pregnant. I am posting the link here: http://www.pbs.org/saf/1110/video/watchonline.htm

It discusses how we get our relationships to food. very interesting and helpful...basically it discusses how when we make something "forbidden friut" it makes it more appealing to kids and they focus more attention onto it. Totally blew my mind but we have used the philosophy of the show in how we treat our son and food. So far so good, best of luck to you, Nat

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions