Tips For Negotiating Sugar Battles With Kids
Sugar battles are a major bummer. Fighting over treats just feels, well, privileged. Here are some strategies for how to negotiate sugar battles with your kids. If you have other great ideas, please share in the comments below!
1. Stay consistent with the rules
Whether you do sweets once a week or once a day, be as consistent as possible. Obviously, when your off your routine (e.g., on vacation) things will be looser, likely, but at home you can set some basic groundrules.
2. Be explicit with each sugary interaction
Reality is, kids don’t have the same concept of time as we do. For adults, dessert is typically after dinner, so if, for example, you’re in a situation faced with treats at lunchtime and your rule is one treat a day, make it clear that a treat now means none the rest of the day.
3. If need be, split it up
If you use a one treat a day rule, another option is to split it up so your kid gets half now, half later.
4. Feed fruit first
I am a big fan of fruit first. It's simple belly volume math!
5. Reinforce the concept of listening to your belly
Little kids actually often are pretty good about stopping when they are full. Encourage that pattern and remind your kid to listen to their belly and stop before they get sick. You can always pack up the rest for tomorrow.
6. Pose a challenge and reward
Work on moderation and mindfulness by trying some sugar challenges and rewards. For example, every now and then we decide as a family to go dessert-free for a week, with a fun reward a the end. There's something really satisfying about a challenge and reward!
7. Model non-dessert behavior
As with all things parenting, modeling the behavior you want to see in your kids is pretty important. It's harder to argue that you're kid can't have a treat if you are snout down in an ice cream sundae!
8. Implement teeth brushing as a consequence of dessert
I'm not sure I know anyone who loves brushing their teeth so another option is to tell your kid that they can have a treat as long as they brush their teeth after. Personally, this is one of the most effective ways I avoid late night eating. I brush, floss, and fluoride while I'm getting my kids ready for bed and the nuisance of needing to repeat this process is enough to keep me away from the pantry!
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