Immediately, I knew that the title of this post would evoke feelings of judgement, sass, and eye rolling that accompanies what you expect to be a rant post. This post is half rant, half logic, and a some facts woven in to hopefully help my case. Before you even have the chance to think it, I’m not THAT mom. You know who I’m talking about. The one you judge because she restricts sweets or doesn’t allow them at all. Some people hate “that” mom because her children don’t get to experience being a kid the way they should. I don’t hate her, judge her, or even try to understand her. I look at my toddler today, and I know “that” mom made a healthier choice.
Making choices for your child is something that you will do for the better part of 18 years relinquishing control a little at a time until you’re proud of what strength and independence you’ve instilled in your child. There’s no age for this to magically happen and as parents you morph from authoritarian (I say that loosely) to guide during your lifetime. Candy, cupcakes, lollipops, cake, and cookies are delicious, great in small amounts, but highly addicting. I don’t mean meth head addicted, but toddlers develop a taste for only the sweet stuff and they’re hooked.
Parenting a toddler means that you test their palette by introducing them to tastes. Ideally, the diet is full of vegetables with everything else mixed in for a well balanced meal. Many parents wonder: How do you get your kids to eat vegetables?
1. Present them at dinner.
2. Turn them into something yummy.
3. Ask them to try vegetables.
Wait, what? It’s that simple. Um, NO! But, that’s a great start. Toddlers are full of personality, impulse, and headstrong for independence. They’ll eat the entire bag of cookies if you let them. Only after seeing how many they can stomp into the carpet between bites. Eating is fun, it’s exploration, and kids learn a lot while eating. Remember learning to add and subtract with apples and oranges?
Meal time should be focused on establishing good habits. These habits go beyond manners because let’s face it a toddler is going to throw their food, release any and all gas, and decide they need a new hairdo.
I allow my daughter to have most candies, enjoy cookies, and even some snack cakes. My goal is to present them to her in moderation, but even I sometimes fail at upholding my end of the bargain. Busy moms know that sometimes offering a cookie keeps your toddler busy so you can finish that phone call or put away the dishes. Harmless enough right? Not really, especially if you make it a habit.
My daughter at 18 months old can say ‘cookies’ and ‘more’ like a pro. Anything that’s a sweet is cookies to her, so she asks for what she wants when she can see it. Sometimes she even goes to the pantry door or to the corner of the counter top where we keep these things and points. That’s universal for “Mommy, cookies now!” On the off chance she really, really wants some she’ll say please. It’s cute, so you have to give in. I shouldn’t. I wouldn’t. But, I sometimes do. Grandparents are the worst at aiding in the setback of an established eating routine. Apparently, you (as the parent) never feed your kids enough and dessert always comes before and after every meal. The struggle is real moms. Don’t mention the candy-filled holidays: Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, and every other holiday because candy is a good gift any time. It’s really not. A candy bar is acceptable, but a goodie bag of treats is not. The thought is nice and very much appreciated. Save your money grandparents and treat bag makers of the world. Invest in a single bag of assorted mini chocolates and hand them out. Grab a few regular sized bars of candy from the store for gifts. Don’t buy candy at all if you can help it. Toddlers like crayons, coloring books, pouched purees, veggie straws, and all kinds of other $1 gifts that are easier on the wallet, the waistline, and loved just as much if not more.
Now, I will rant about the sneaky candy givers of the world. Banks stop offering my child a sucker as a reward for not flipping out during our transaction or to calm them down if they did. Lunchables stop offering a miniature candy bar in your lunch packs. Just stop. I am trying to convince my child to eat the lunch meat not just the cheese and that mini Butterfinger bar is derailing my plans. Candy is not comfort. Need something to make a kid happy. Invest in a roll of stickers. Does the trick just fine at the dentist and the doctor’s office. They’re even no sugar added!
Getting your child that’s hooked on candy and cookies back on track is hard. It takes work and discipline by all parties even remotely involved in making meals for your little one. Anyone that doesn’t understand what the problem is or refuses to believe that this process is anything but a nightmare has never had a screaming toddler throw an atomic tantrum because they weren’t allowed to have a cookie for breakfast, lunch, and the rest of the bag for dinner. While I’ve probably morphed into something akin to a candy-Nazi general by this point, trust me I am not. Just this morning, I let my daughter eat a snack cake for breakfast. Parenting fail.
It’s a process, and it’s one that I’m willing to work on with her. Sweets should be a privilege not an expectation. I’d rather my daughter ask for an apple or an orange when she’s hungry instead of demanding cookies. So, candy gifters of the world please meet me halfway. Don’t send toddlers home with bags full of candy. Treat them once and send them home. Plus, it’s Mom and Dad that are the bad guys (right?), when they have to put it all out of reach and say, “No,” only a million times. I promise they’ll still love you anyway.