Your 6 3/4-year-old: Sweets and treats

Your 6 3/4-year-old: Sweets and treats

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Your 6-year-old now

Most children have a natural sweet tooth. Trying to keep sugar away from your child completely is a losing battle, given its prevalence in the world. And forbidding it can backfire. The more you make it a forbidden fruit, the more she'll want it, and scarf it down when the opportunity presents itself at friend's houses or parties. The trick is not to deny but to limit.

For a 6-year-old, a serving or two of sweets a day is plenty. It's best to let your child have some degree of choice regarding consumption. If she takes cookies in her lunch and has pudding after dinner, she's done for the day. At her bedtime snack, she'll need to choose something else.

The better diet your child eats, the fewer cravings she'll develop for sweet things. Complex carbs like whole grains and veggies break down more slowly in the body and satisfy for longer. Exercise can also quell cravings. Don't offer sweets as a reward or incentive; this elevates the importance of sugar. Do offer natural sugars, such as fruit.

Your life now

Family traditions – picking strawberries to make jam, donating outgrown items to the church bazaar – are as important to family life as regular meals together. Besides being fun, rituals make families stronger. Children get a sense of belonging; they learn what your family values. Rituals also offer structure and predictability – something 6-year-olds crave. They love knowing they can count on dinner at Grandma's once a month.

Traditions don't need to be extravagant or revolve around the holidays. Be creative. Celebrate Game Night every Friday or let your child choose the dinner on the 15th of every month. Encourage your child to help plan the festivities.

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