Children and Sweets

Thursday, November 16, 2017

“But you would be fed with the finest of wheat; with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.” Psalm 81:16


Every culture in the world enjoys sweets, and so do our children! They are a God-given enjoyment (1 Timothy 4:34). Many parents often ask me how they should approach sweets and desserts with small children. Treats for your children during the day are fine if they are hungry, but be careful and remember that if they aren’t hungry, eating something sweet will interfere with their feeling of stomach hunger later. Also, pay attention to your children’s need for different foods and offer a variety of treats, not just sweets.


As for desserts, be careful not to associate them with the mealtime itself. For example, do not set up a system of “if you clean your plate, then you can have dessert” or encourage them to eat dinner until they are completely full and THEN bring out chocolate cake! In my family, I never offered a dessert immediately after the meal. Instead, we had desserts or treats in the house for later that night. If the children became hungry again after dinner, I would let them choose anything they wanted to eat. Sometimes they chose a sweet dessert, but other times they just wanted some leftovers or a bowl of cereal. There were also many times that they simply weren’t hungry again after dinner.


If you know that a dessert is in the house that your children want, teach them that it is fine to adapt their eating to incorporate that dessert. Show them that if they eat a little less at dinner, they will feel hungry for dessert later.


If you raise your children from the start to not regard sweets as anything special, they won’t tend to focus on them as they grow older. Again, your children will learn the most from watching you. If your reaction to sweets or desserts is one of love, excitement, longing, and worship, your children will react the same way. But if they see you waiting for hunger, serving yourself a small portion, thanking God for the wonderful taste of that chocolate brownie, and basically treating that dessert as any other food, they will react this way also!


(Excerpt from Feeding Children Physically and Spiritually, by Gwen Shamblin)