Advice about Limiting Sweets

Parent Q&A

  • Rule against sweets-- Wise?

    (5 replies)

    A friend restricts her 11-year old daughter's access to sweets, like a hawk she restricts.  The child isn't diabetic, doesn't have a health challenge made worse by sugar, etc. Of course the mother does this out of concern: there's entirely too much sugar in our diets, and it can cause health problems as one ages. !  BUT it seems the child has developed unhealthy behavior around this restriction that was put into place about 3 years ago.

    Recently, the family visited a mutual friend (call her "B") who lives out of state.  B told me that the sweet-restricted child would pocket all the packets of sugar she could "swipe" when they'd eat in a restaurant (she'd do so when the mother wasn't looking).  Later, as they walked to their car, the daughter would show my friend B what she'd swiped.

    When my daughters were younger I restricted TV watching, online activity, etc.  It backfired.  Now that I've backed off, things are easier between them and me.  What are parents doing regarding sugar intake, for example?  Thanks for your thoughtful input-- that's all I've ever received from this amazing BPN group.

    RE: Rule against sweets-- Wise? ()

    I have a now 18 year old. Besides occasionally saying "that's enough with the treats" or "that's enough with the TV," I've never had any restrictions. My child has pretty much been able to self regulate; perhaps I would have had some rules if this were not the case but that never happened. We seriously have had to throw away Halloween candy after one year to make room in the bucket for new trick or treating. The only rule I am strict about is sleep; everyone in the house must get 8 hours of sleep. I believe that self regulation works best when people get sufficient sleep.

    RE: Rule against sweets-- Wise? ()

    Personally, I agree with you.  I have three kids and they are allowed sugar (and screen-time) in moderation and the older ones are mostly able to regulate themselves. They are allowed one dessert/sweet after every meal and will sometimes purposely avoid eating sweets during the day if they want to same them to have extra dessert after dinner.  I set certain rules when they were younger -- quotas of allowed desserts/sweets on weekdays and a bit more on weekends, and I allow unlimited (up to them) during parties or holidays.  As adults we all get to let go and indulge during special occasions and are a lot more moderate during other times, and I allow the kids the same freedom.  Saying this, my kids are always the ones to turn down cake that is not their favorite during birthday parties and are a lot more selective about their desserts. They are not sugar obsessed.  I of course don't know if the system works because they are not really into sweets or if they are so chill about sweets because of the system.  

    Saying all of this, if that is your friend's kid, I personally would stay out of it.  Parents are so sensitive about this stuff and feel they are doing what is best for their kids and personally when I see mom over-do it on restricting sweets, screen time, etc. (and I see it a lot in the bay area) I don't say anything and keep my thoughts to my self.  I get super annoyed when other moms tell me that I should not give my kids a candy or that they should not be watching ipad because it is bad for them, etc. cause it is my choice how to parent my children, so i give the same courtesy to other and stay out of it. 

    RE: Rule against sweets-- Wise? ()

    Hmmm I wonder why you are asking this question when it seems clear what your own view is. Perhaps cut your friend some slack on her parenting style knowing that you probably only see part of the picture? Perhaps her pediatrician told her the daughter should lose weight? Who knows? Anecdotes on thes type of topics are so hard because what works for one family doesn’t for another. My view is that some kids are born hungry and will seek out sweets A LOT. Other kids are born fussy and shun food a lot. If you have a hungry eater, you have to have boundaries around what they eat and can’t let it be all junk or they will get very overweight which isn’t fair on them. But you have to be fair and consistent which I think includes some sweets and not let your kid get an eating disorder. If your friend is doing the latter as you imply then of course that isn’t healthy! 

Archived Q&A and Reviews


What to do about birthday party candy

April 2008

My kids must be getting older (they're elementary school age) because now they're coming home with candy from birthday party pinatas and goodie bags, in Valentine's Day cards from classmates (despite the school's ''no candy'' policy), Easter egg hunts... No more of the ''healthy snack'' and ''candy alternative'' stuff that was always enforced in preschool! Anyway, I'm trying to figure out how to moderate my kids' consumption of the candy that they bring home after these occasions. I would say this comes up at least once a month.

For Halloween, we follow the ''three day rule'' (eat as much candy as they want for three days, then throw out the rest), as it has been recommended by dentists and on this parents network. I figured this was just a once-a-year thing, which I can live with, but have been caught totally unawares by these birthday parties, etc! Should I allow them the ''three day rule'' whenever these other occasions arise? Or let them eat a few pieces post-party and go straight to the ''Switch Witch''? (Though somehow I dislike the idea that I would have to ''bribe'' my kids to not eat candy by playing the ''Switch Witch'' every time.)

I will say that we don't usually keep candy around the house; however, I normally do allow my kids other sweets (cookies, ice cream) in moderation--so I'm not interested in hearing opinions about avoiding refined sugar, etc. Thanks. Confused about candy


We also experienced the same problem when our son hit elementary school. We allow desserts 1x/week at home (I can't control the birthday goodies that are distributed at school without making my teacher do more policing than she already does and make my child a social outcast which I don't want to do, over this issue anyway). So, if my son brings home candy from parties, school, etc., I remind him about what day of the week is dessert week and then we put it away until then. If he asks for it that night, I bring it out and he has a piece. Usually after eating one piece he never asks for it again and I simply throw it out. Good luck! HOpefully someday the food will change to something healthier! CAHappy


We take every piece of candy my son recieves on all holidays/parties, etc and we put it in this big glass jar. It is unbelievably FULL, with every kind of candy you could imagine (and we never buy candy). Then we let him pick a piece from the jar after dinner. He doesn't always remember to ask for it, and we don't remind him if he doesn't ask. But when he says ''where is my after dinner candy'' we pull down the jar and let him pick whatever he wants. That way we don't throw it out, his consumption is always moderate (I know some think one piece of candy every other day is outlandish sugar consumption, but we will have to agree to disagree on that one), and he feels happy and in control. Its worked really well for us. I even sometimes ask him ''do you mind if I have a piece of candy from your candy jar''? If he says yes, then I can have a piece. If he says no, then too bad for me! He usually says yes, and it makes him feel really good to share. a little candy never killed anyone


This may not work with your kids for sure, but it works wonders with mine: I say, ''Have one piece of candy, then we'll put the rest in the freezer and save it for the next time we go to a movie.'' I ended up, at first, with a huge freezer bag full of candy, but eventually realized that the candy was completely forgotten. So (cue in evil mom laugh here) I threw it all away. I did the same with the Valentines and Easter candy. Mind you, I do not toss it right away. I make sure the candy is good and forgotten first. There is always a new collection of candy around the corner that seems to help the forgetting along. Good luck! Meg