This week I would like to take a moment to vent. What’s up with all the sweets? Seriously, my children love sweets from school, preschool, parties, playgroup, vacations, and yet they keep asking for more. How did this phenomenon begin? I have no idea, but I would certainly like it to stop. Do not get me wrong, I do not want to banish the sweets and junk food of the world, but I would definitely like to see a decrease in the amount offered to my children. Okay, I admit that just expressing the problem is not going to solve anything, so I’m going to offer some ideas to at least reduce the consumption of sweets in MY world.
Sweets and children
To reduce the amount of trash presented to my children, I first had to make a list of all the places where the material was appearing. It seems that my children come home with a lot of candy from school events. Valentine’s Day seemed to be the biggest culprit. Valentine’s cards are now packed with candy for your children to share with the small cards. I seem to remember that I was happy with the little cards when I was a child. Why do we have to put a lollipop now? As a parent, if you feel that your child needs to include an additional gift each time you hand out notes, keep in mind that it does not have to be sweet. This year my children joined pencils. Some other options are temporary tattoos, stickers or small hand-held games.
Your children can also make personalized cards for their friends instead of including a gift. Engage them in the idea of appreciating their friends in that way instead of distributing junk food. Similarly, you can choose to deliver non-sweet gifts for parties such as Halloween, Easter and Christmas. How many candy canes does a child need to eat in a year? A coupon decorated for a game date in the park can be so happily received and definitely a much healthier option. Remember, set the stage for your child’s expectations at home. In our house, the Easter Bunny hides eggs and delivers Easter baskets with books, movies and coloring materials instead of giant chocolate bunnies.
Ration the portions
Consider donating excess sweets to our troops abroad or to a charity that helps the less fortunate.
Even if you try to limit the amount of candy you are giving your children, you will surely bring them home from outside activities. Easter egg hunts, treats, birthday parties or school events can send children home with bags full of gifts. My suggestion is to ration the sweets to keep consumption under control. We have a can of cookies in our house where all the goodies are stored. Once the candy goes into the house, I check it and decide what we keep. I eliminate items that I do not allow my children to have, such as chewing gum, choking hazards or items that appear to have been opened. Everything else enters the can and the can is kept out of place and reach. My children know that they are allowed one treat per day, but they tend to forget that it is there. That method has worked for us for a long time. So, after dinner, if my children ask for dessert, this would be a time when they could choose an item from the can or a freezer palette. I explain that these items are delicious, but they are NOT healthy. That helps my children understand why they do not want to eat them often and encourages them to choose a different snack, such as fruit or yogurt.
Get on the same page with other adults
Another key to decreasing the amount of candy and junk is talking to the other adults involved. This is especially important if your child is sensitive to sugar. As parents, we must be respectful of the wishes of other parents when it comes to their children. If another adult is going to take care of your child or if you have seen another parent hand out treats without first consulting with other parents, you can say that you would like to be asked first. Most of us know that we should first ask for permission, but keep in mind that if you wave treats with your own child and others can see them, it could be causing some frustration for other parents. That does not mean that you can not offer your children their snacks, but it is polite to be aware of the other people nearby. A simple and quiet, “Do you mind if I give my son a cookie?” Or “Can I give cookies to children?” It will generally result in a much more positive experience for everyone. If my child already had his daily allowance of cookies, I can choose to distract him or take him out of the situation so that he is not tempted by the treatment that he would not otherwise ask for. It’s amazing how my children are starving when they see other children eating delicious things! Okay, we should be able to tell our children not when they ask, but let’s be honest, nobody really wants to see those sad eyes
Keep healthier foods by hand
Finally, one of the best drawings of candy and junk food that we can not think about is the lack of preparation. It is much easier to simply remove a package or open a package than to actually prepare something healthy. To combat this, I suggest having ready-to-eat healthy foods on hand. Have a drawer in your refrigerator with cheese sticks or chopped or chopped fruits and vegetables. Place a basket on the counter with boxes of raisins, whole-grain crackers, small popcorn bags in the air, or other healthy snacks appropriate for your age. Having these items ready for your children when they get the urge to eat them will help them make better decisions, and to be honest, it helps me make better decisions as well. I’m much more likely to grab a handful of small carrots than to dip in the candy can these days. Also remember that if you have too many sealed candies, you do not have to throw them away. Consider donating it to our troops abroad or to a charity that helps the less fortunate. Whatever you do, do not eat it alone. You will regret it and you will have a terrible stomachache too.