Polk Moms

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When I go to the mall, I take my toddler in his stroller. I see other moms with their kids and constantly hear them bribe them with candy if they stay in the stroller and stop whining or whatever. I was wondering if it was too terribly bad to actually offer candy for good behavior if they only have it once or twice a week?

This is called positive reinforcement. For good behavior, they get a reward. It should be fine if your son only gets candy once a week. - Rob Cruzen in Wildwood, MO


There are many parents who offer candy for good behavior, especially at the mall or in public places. Let's face it: if we have a whining or screaming toddler on our hands, we'll do just about anything to get them to stop. The challenge begins when kids insist on candy each time they do as we ask and/or expect it in a certain situation. It may work occasionally, but for a long term solution, it may end up becoming a nightmare. For example, your toddler may put two and two together. He may end up making a scene just so you'll offer the candy if he will change his behavior, which he does and then of course, is rewarded for. Candy is a big deal to most kids, especially if they don't get it on a regular basis. This type of “reward” can very well lead to unacceptable behavior during other outings, like to the grocery store, library, eating out, etc., just to get candy. There are many other things to offer your son besides candy that are healthier and much better for him. It could be a couple of things he doesn't get normally like a special soft granola bar, certain cookies made with honey, thinly sliced and cut up almonds, etc. There are many good nutritional snacks for toddlers that won't give him a sugar buzz or contribute to tooth decay and/or a possible weight problem, yet taste amazing. Take a look online for entire cookbooks just on this topic. Also, ask your pediatrician for some ideas. However, in order to make the treat seem like an exceptional reward, you'll need to monitor when, in what quantity and how often he gets it. That way, it'll seem really special. Additionally, there are other neat things to use besides food, like a trip to the zoo, his favorite story hour, the park... Just be sure to follow through, especially as he gets older and can remember everything.


When my daughter comes to visit, she always brings her two kids, both under the age of five, and their snacks. Supposedly, they both have allergies to various foods and she never lets them eat anything at my house. Every once in a while, she may leave them and run an errand and I ask them if they liked the pie, cake or whatever it was that I baked and sent over. Almost always they say that their mommy threw it in the trash. This is very hurtful. How should I confront her about this without getting emotional or angry?

To share parenting tips or submit questions, write to: Parent to Parent, 2464 Taylor Road, Suite 131, Wildwood, MO 63040. Emaildirect2contact@parenttoparent.com,or go to www.parenttoparent.com which provides a secure and easy way to submit tips or questions. All tips must have city, state and first and last name or initials to be included in the column.

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