How Many Sweets for Kids?

Updated on June 10, 2009
B.T. asks from Houston, TX
5 answers

Hi! I am trying to figure out a way to provide a balance of sweets in our house without banning them entirely (I don't think depriving is the solution). We have tried all sorts of ways to limit the amount of sweets they get--"sugar cards" they had to pay for each sweet they wanted and limit of two per day (10 per week total); each child choosing their own dessert night per week but that was hard to remember who had what when; and other things.

I had thought to make a certain night of the week "dessert night" but our schedule is so varied I'm not sure I can commit to the same day each week. Very often, my kids want to bring their own money to the store and buy sweets. I'm not sure what to think about this as it IS their allowance money but I don't understand why they need to spend it all on candy-maybe it is just a kid thing!

BTW, I have a BIG sweet tooth so enjoy my sweets too. We are all of average weight and height so I'm not concerned about about overindulgence being a problem--I just want to find a nice balance.

What do you all do in your family? TIA for your advice!

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answers from Houston on

I love ice cream..and so do my kids. We have one day a week when the kids can go sugar crazy. Usually that day is Saturday (known as sugar day). When we first initiated this plan the kids really went crazy, but we are now 2 years into this and they generally eat a desert and some most kids do on a daily basis. We also allow cake and ice cream or pies on special days like birthdays, holidays, etc. This has really helped us.

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answers from Houston on

Hi Brenda-

I don't really have a "system" for limiting the sweets but my children do not eat them all day long either. First I control what comes into the house so I don't just buy candy or cookies or cakes at the store when I shop. Occasionally we bake brownies or cookies together and then they enjoy a couple of them per day until they are gone. If they go to a birthday party and receive a goody bag with candy they can eat a little each day until it is gone. At Halloween I let them select their favorite pieces and then we dispose of the rest (my husband takes it to work, or we donate it).

I think it's important for kids to learn about money through receiving allowance but they also need to learn that spending their money on something short term like candy means they won't be able to buy something more durable like a toy or book that they can get more long term enjoyment out of. Try to teach them this lesson but if they still want candy I would let them buy it but you still get to limit how much they eat and when. I would say one piece per day until it is gone is sufficient. Just as you would limit the amount of time they could play a video game if that's what they spent their money on, you should be able to limit how much of the candy they eat in a given day. Also, while I understand you allowing them to spend THEIR money as they see fit you wouldn't let them buy a book that was beyond their years or a game that was too difficult to play or an R rated movie with the money, right? So you do get to set limits on what they buy even though it is THEIR allowance. If you don't want them to spend it on candy tell them they can buy only one piece of candy per week or any other limit that seems appropriate to you.

Also just in case this is the problem, don't have the sweets easily accessible to them. If they have to go through you to get to them then it's up to you to just say no. If in your opinion they've already had enough for the day say no and offer a healthy snack instead. If they are truly hungry, they'll eat it and if not they were just bored anyway which is never a good reason to eat junk food.

Good luck,

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

At our house we talk about "grow" foods and "whoa" foods. How grow foods are good for us and whoa foods are only for sometimes.

I love Dr.Sears who said, aim for 90% good food and 10% junk...if you hit 80%/20% you are doing a GREAT job.

We do have desserts pretty much every night, but at least 5 to 6 nights a week they are fruit (strawberries, cantaloupe, blueberries, watermelon, apple sauce, etc.) I put them in small bowls and everyone has to eat a balanced meal to get "dessert". Other nights we might have ice cream (I buy the individual serving sized cups, or mini ice cream sandwiches).

I guess the key is I just don't buy sweets...if they are not in the house we can't eat them. If I do buy them, I put them up/hide them and my DH and I might enjoy some after the kids are in bed.

I don't ever keep sodas in the house and not even when we go out do we offer them as an option. They will have plenty of years to drink their fill of those. And I water down fruit juices about 1/3rd juice to 2/3rds water...juice is just sugar in a glass, with a few vitamins thrown in.

Maybe I am a bit hardcore...but I so want them to be healthy.

Oh, it is their money to spend, but would you allow them to spend it on a tattoo or piercing?? Maybe just allowing them to buy one sweet treat per outing would be a good compromise.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Killeen on

I am overweight and I want better for my kids. I will say I probably went overboard with my oldest by being to "hard nosed" when it came to sweets.

I now try for a better balance. I keep candy (chocolate) in the freezer or cupboard, out of their site and reach and I dole it out when they have been especially well behaved or once in a while for "dessert" We do not have dessert every night...but we do have it maye once a week.

I want my kids to know that sweets are a special indulgence and not an every day thing. We replace those with alternates like fruit cups graham crackers, fruit snacks, vegetables etc. I would rather my kids snack on healthy foods and indulge in sweets once in awhile... IT has worked out pretty well...even when given a choice, my kids typically pick the healthier snacks...

You can even compromise a bit in this are with a good trail mix...use carob chips instead of chocolate for a bit of sweet and the nuts and dried fruit will add a good energy punch to the whole thing...the payooff is the kids think they are gettig a special treat and you know they are eating healthy.

With Cereals, I often compromise by purchasing say cheerios and maybe froot loops and mixing the the have a bit of sweet with something far more healthy for them...

Pops are also a special treat. At home my children typically drink 100% juice (which has plenty of natural sugars in it on its own) or V8 Fusion (to help them get enough vegetable servings in - without tasting vegetables) and milk and water. Pop is for those nights we eat out. Once (or twice) a pay period we will eat out and they get to have pop then, though my twin 4 yos usually prefer OJ at this time over pop.

So far this has worked fairly well for my family. My children fully comprehend that certain foods are special treat and others are everday foods. And eat accordingly. I can only hope this stays with them through adulthood. I have heard from parents when my children visit friends that my children often turn down offered treats of cookies and what not in favor of apples or bananas or other healthy offerings. They are usually in amazement.

Good Luck!!! ;-)

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answers from Houston on

What kind of sweets are you talking about? I'm a firm believer (and it works in my family) that they won't miss what you don't start. If you want them to have something sweet, cook fresh carrots with brown sugar. Cookies are not a requirement, and children learn quickly what is permissable and what is not in any given environment. The key is consistency, and there's really no excuse. No means no. They're too young for candy and junk, anyway. Teach them that sweets are fruits and fruity treats and things that you sweeten with sugar, not the junk that the rest of the world pushes on you. Right now you're helping them to form eating habits for their lifetimes. Give them a taste for things that are good for their bodies and souls and minds.

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