It’s the dreaded “s” word moms don’t want their child to say.
No, it’s not a profanity. It’s the word, “snack”.
Kids will ask for it at all hours of the day, but particularly in the evening, right before bed (at least in my house). My personal favorite is after taking as minimal bites as possible for dinner, I’ll hear, “I’m hungry, may I have a snack?”
So what are we as moms supposed to do make sure our kids are getting the nutrition they need, on top of not having the great snack debate?
Let kids think they’re getting what they want, but making it a nutritious option.
These are the three tricks I’ve used to help combat the battle over snacks:
Let kids choose their own snack – within reason
My kids have easy access to a lazy susan cabinet in our kitchen. This has become their property, in a way, because I have it full of food they love. They know they’re not supposed to go into the refrigerator or other cupboards without permission, which makes me more lenient to give them their own space in the kitchen.
Whenever the dreaded “s” word comes up, I tell my kids to get a snack out of the snack drawer. In my lazy susan, I have small tubs placed inside that are color-coded and labeled. While my toddler doesn’t quite understand what those all mean, my older children are able to decipher and feel in control when it comes to getting their snack. Because some snacks are one step away from being a dessert, I have desserts in one colored tub and snacks in a different colored tub. Just like when it comes to getting a snack, this process has made it easier to let the kids get a dessert, too, and more importantly, I feel like, not only avoid an argument with them but let them think they’re in charge.
I also carefully choose what items to put in the snack drawer. This is because my kids don’t usually want one snack, but two, three, or more. If I have a snack in the snack drawer, I need to make sure it’s OK if my kids decide to pig out on it.
This is a biggy since as mentioned above, my kids like to go out-of-control sometimes when it comes to snacks, making it more like a meal than a food to get them through to the next meal. The price also adds up if you buy the pre-portioned, on-the-go, snacks at the store.
My best advice is to get the family size of whatever snack, then buy small zipped bags, and fill those bags proportionately with the snack. It’s fun for the kids to see a lot of bags, already full of a snack they love, and it’s fun for me because I know I’m saving a lot of money by pre-portioning my own bags rather than buying the already pre-portioned bags.
This idea also works great if kids are looking for fruit or vegetables as their snack. By pre-portioning out snack appropriate sizes, I can tell my kids to go to a specific spot in the refrigerator and they can pull a bag out full of healthy fruits or vegetables, while still feeling like they’re in control because they chose their snack.
Be clear about the rules
This is by far the hardest one for me to follow but I know it’s important to keep. It’s not healthy for me or my children to let them have snacks all the time, even if the snacks are nutritious. Setting consistent rules with kids is key for so many aspects of their life, including how to help them make the best decisions when it comes to food. A rule I try is no more than two snacks after dinner, only if all the food on their plate was eaten. If they don’t eat all their food, then I tell them they will only be allowed one snack before bed. It’s tough to be consistent with this, especially as the kids go up to bed whining, “I’m hungry,” but that’s the most important time to stick to the rules. If I let my kids get the best of me when it comes to snacks, who knows what else they think they’ll be able to do.
Snack doesn’t have to be a forbidden word in your house. By making clear rules, and letting kids make healthy choices, it can become a treat for everyone.