How to Tame Your Child’s Sweet Tooth

Girls making cookies for Santa

Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas: It’s that time of year when sugar consumption is on overload for children. How can parents regulate their child’s sweet tooth? Is it possible to do it without looking like the bad guy?

“I think during the holidays, the best thing parents can do is to monitor and make sure their kids don’t go overboard,” said Sharon Hawks, registered dietitian, licensed nutritionist and certified diabetes educator. “It is the holidays and there’s going to be indulging going on but the key is to upfront, set limitations on how much sweets and all the different extras kids can have during the holidays.”

Hawks advises that parents allow their child to choose one dessert before holiday dinner and let the child know that they are allowed to consume one serving of it after the holiday meal.

But what is a parent to do when their child insists on having more sugary treats than they need?

Sarah Hamaker, a certified Leadership Parenting Coach and a mother of four, shared her words of wisdom concerning this common issue.

“My kids know that when I say ‘no’ that’s it,” she said. “Begging and pleading and temper tantrums only gets them in trouble.”

But how can you say “no” to your sugar-craving kids without sounding like the bad guy?

Elizabeth Maddrey, mother of two young boys, thinks that being seen as the “bad guy” by your children comes with the territory of being a parent and it’s not something to be feared.

“As the adult, you know best,” Maddrey said. “You’re not there to be a friend or a sibling. You’re there to train up your children in the way they should go. That means setting limits and sticking to them.”

Hamaker shared five tips to help manage your child’s sweet tooth during the holidays:

Tip #1: Allow for overindulgence for a limited time. Let them each as much as they want for Halloween Day and Christmas Day.

Tip #2: Set parameters on eating the rest of the candy such as a piece a candy a day or on Saturday, you can have candy.

Tip #3: Don’t ban candy entirely from your house.

Tip #4: Set a good example yourself. If you as a parent can’t regulate your own candy intake and they see you eating candy but not letting them eat candy all the time that could be a problem.

Tip #5: Remember that candy itself isn’t evil. It can be part of a healthful diet in moderate amounts.

Jared Taylor, father of two children, suggests avoiding refined sugar all together as a way to curb your child’s sweet tooth.

 “You don’t develop a sweet tooth unless it was given to you,” he said. “So, if you’re not accustomed to candy and that’s not part of your diet, then you’re not missing anything. I would think that avoidance is one of the best approaches.”

At end of the day, Taylor’s advice to parents who are struggling to satisfy their child’s penchant for holiday sweets without overdoing it is simple.

“You can get sweets through fruit,” he said.

Get more tips on limiting your child’s sugar intake from registered dietitian, licensed nutritionist and certified diabetes educator Sharon Hawks in Ask the Nutritionist.

And get some alternative treats for kids with allergies and diet restrictions.

Get Halloween safety tips for the family so you can keep your celebration fun.

Alexis A. Goring is a writer who loves helping people through the art of storytelling.

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