Tips for parents

We know that it can be incredibly hard to say no to our children. Here are some tips to help you manage how many treats your children enjoy.

Be prepared.

Children will always be hungry as soon as you pick them up from the school gate or when they get home. So be prepared with some healthy snacks so you don’t end up making quick decisions at the last minute. If they’re already full when they sit down for tea or dinner, there will be less room for nutritious foods, that would support their growth and development.

Treat wisely.

If you do want to give them a treat, don’t make it a routine so that they begin to expect it as soon as they get home.

Take control.

Make sure you’re in control of your child’s treats. Left to their own devices, many children would happily munch on sugary treats and chocolate throughout the day. Keep them out of sight and save them for an occasional treat rather than an everyday snack.

Build healthy foundations.

Lay down the foundations for lifelong healthy eating habits. If your child experiences a variety of different foods from a young age and learns to enjoy them, they are more likely to continue to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle, and treat sweets as treats, as they get older.

Lead by example.

Children really do learn by example, so even if you are a chocolate lover, follow the same rules you’re setting for your children and keep chocolate for an every-so-often treat, not a daily staple.

Don’t use treats as a reward or punishment.

It may seem like a perfectly reasonable thing to do – if they tidy their room, eat their vegetables, do their homework or take the dog for a walk, then they are allowed to have a sweet treat, or if they don’t, they are not allowed chocolate for a week! You don’t want to form a psychological association with treats and behaviour as this could continue into adulthood and form unhealthy habits. Try rewarding them in other ways, like taking them out to play a game or allowing them to spend more time with their friends.

Don’t give in to tantrums.

If your child is currently going through a fussy eating phase, and their refusal to eat can trigger meltdowns. Don’t get into the habit of giving in to the screaming and crying, and letting them just eat treats, such as chocolate or biscuits. If your child gets used to having tantrums to get their own way, they will always expect the same treatment.