And while the government’s health secretary Matt Hancock has said parents shouldn’t give in to pester power when it comes to sweet treats – saying his three kids rarely eat them – it can feel difficult to resist the furious demands of a determined child when you’re also holding all the rest of life together.
Give sweets in moderation and as part of a balanced diet, advises Cathy Ranson, editor of ChannelMum.com. “Don’t ban them – if you ban sweets they become the holy grail and kids go crazy for them. Also choose wisely. Avoid sweetie lollies because they stay in contact with the teeth for so long they are more likely to cause cavities than sweets that are quicker to eat.”
We asked other parents how they attempt (or plan to) ration their kids eating sweets 24/7.
“Be the example.”
Robin Bharaj, 41, has a young son and knows as he grows older, sweets treats are something he’s going to have to tackle. “It’s a tricky one, because you see how kids can get addicted to sugar,” he says. “You can see they can sometimes change their behaviour when they’re looking for that sugar fix. But then again, when we were brought up, no one cared and sugar was given freely.”
Robin feels as parents it’s good to look at how much sugar different sweets contain. “It’s important to be role model to kids and be the example,” he says.
“Say no, you’re the parent.”
Kerry Richmond, 38, who is mum to an eight-year-old and four-year-old, says her son never had sweets when he was growing up until he was around five-years-old. She would give him raisins instead and, on occasion, chocolate raisins.
Her daughter however, who grew up with an older brother wanting sweets, asks for sweets all the time. But Kerry’s response is simple: “I just say ‘no you can’t’ if she asks too much,” she says. “It’s simple, you’re the parent.”
“Everything is okay in moderation.”
Joaquim Beneitez, 38, has one daughter and says he believes parents have a hard time constantly being fed messages about what they should and shouldn’t feed their children. “I think everything is okay in moderation,” he says. “I let my child have sweets once a day and set a limit.”
“I give fruit.”
Ranson from ChannelMum said one sweets alternative for parents is cutting up pieces of fruit. She says small kids can sometimes be convinced that cut grapes or strawberries are sweets.
This is something Dan Smaller, 41, does with his little one. “I don’t really give him any sweets to be honest,” he says when asked on any tips or tricks he has for rationing. “I go for giving fruit instead.”
“Set boundaries when they’re young.”
Candy Jin, 34, says she has set boundaries with her daughter of how many sweets she can have since she was young, so she’s used to it. “Every week she’ll have three sweets/treats,” the mum says. “She never has too much.”
“Don’t buy sweets in the first place.”
Sheena Whittingdon, 68, has two grown-up children and three grandchildren. She says she completely agrees with Matt Hancock’s statements. “I didn’t try to ration sweets with my children, I just didn’t buy them,” she says.
“I have an emergency lollipop in my buggy.”
Lizzie Sibley, 33, has a two-year-old and a six-month-old. She says it can be hard on parents being constantly told what to do and how to parent. “Parenting is hard,” she says. “Sometimes, to get a screaming toddler in a buggy, you might give them sweets. Not a whole packet, but just a gummy bear - we’ve got to be realistic, we’re not giving our children sweets the whole time.”
Sibley says she has an emergency lollipop in her buggy, just in case she may have trouble persuading her little one to stay sitting. “This one has been here for three months without being used,” she adds. “But it’s always good as a safety net.”