As a parent or caregiver, you naturally want to help your kids make healthy choices. When it comes to their choice of drink, however, it’s not easy. Advertisements for sugary drinks can make it hard to set limits and say “no”. The good news is that you can greatly influence your kids’ preferences, and ultimately their health, by what you make available at home. These resources are provided to help make your job easier.
Talking to your kids about sugary drinks
Before you can talk to your kids about sugary drinks, it’s good to know what you think about them. Do sugary drinks have a place in your family? If so, what kind? How much? How often?
Sugary drinks are okay for an occasional treat. However, most kids drink too many. As a parent or caregiver, you control what’s on-hand for your kids to drink. If you don’t buy sugary drinks, they won’t drink them as often.
Talk to your kids about the importance of limiting sugary drinks. Help them understand that sugary drinks can harm their teeth. Explain how sugary drinks can crowd-out more healthy choices.
- When your kids are thirsty, water is the best choice.
- Kids need the Vitamin D, calcium and other nutrients found fat-free and low-fat milk.
- Fruit juice (100% juice) is refreshing in small amounts, but whole fruits make great snacks with fewer calories and add more fiber than juice.
Be sure your words match your actions. By making healthy drink choices yourself, you are helping your kids develop good habits that will last a lifetime.
Setting goals and limits for sugary drinks
Know how many sugary drinks you consume
In order to set a goal for limiting sugary drinks, it’s helpful to first know how much each person in your family usually drinks. Keep track of the sugary drinks each person has in one week. Write down everyone’s name on a piece of paper (or click here to download our tracking form ) and keep a record of the kind and amount of drinks they have during the week.
If you aren’t sure what is a sugary drink, see (what are sugary drinks ). Be sure to include what everyone drinks at home and when they are out.
Choose a goal
When you have your results for the week, look it over and decide where you’d like to start. Here are some suggestions:
- Limit the number of sugary drinks:
Example: Consider cutting the number of sugary drinks in half to start.
- Limit the amount of sugary drinks:
Example: When you do buy sugary drinks, consider purchasing only small containers.
- Limit the occasions:
Example: Pick a few special days and limit sugary drinks to those days.
Write your family’s goal on a piece of paper and tape it to the fridge. This will serve as a reminder to everyone.
Make setting limits easier
If setting limits for your kids makes you uncomfortable, you are not alone. Some of the reasons parents may hesitate to set limits are listed below.
- They want to be seen as loving parents
- They want their kids to be happy
- They don’t know what to expect when they set limits
- They want to avoid conflict
- They don’t want to feel bad when their kids were upset by the limits
- They feel pressure to make a healthy choice while wanting the less healthy choice
- They don’t know how to set limits
- They don’t feel confident they can set limits
Setting limits for children is rarely easy. However, when parents and caregivers set reasonable limits and communicate the reason in a positive way, they are more likely to gain a child’s cooperation. What is a reasonable limit? For sugary drinks, it may depend on your family’s starting point. Consider a limit that allows your kids to be successful.
Monitoring your family’s progress
Now that you’ve set a goal, it’s important to track your progress. You can use our tracking form, or make your own.
Monitoring is not just paying attention to what and how much your kids drink. It is also about knowing what drinks are available to them at home and away from home. Take a few minutes to be sure that cold water is easily available. Let the other adults in your kids’ life know about your efforts to limit sugary drinks. Enlist their help.
If you are not satisfied with your family’s progress toward meeting your goals for limiting sugary drinks, don’t give-up. Change is difficult. Think back to a time when you didn’t think you could do something, but you did! Remember how good it felt to accomplish something new. Celebrate each success along the way. Don’t let set-backs discourage you from trying again.
Serving as a positive example
You are your child’s first teacher, and the one they will have the longest. What you say and do is likely to have a lasting impact. If what you do doesn’t match what you say, your kids may get confused and resist your efforts to set limits. Let them see you make healthy drink choices. Not only will your kids benefit, but you will too. Like kids, many adults drink too many sugary drinks. The example below shows how quickly the added sugars and empty calories add up.
Take a minute to check your progress on your efforts to limit sugary drinks
Click below to take the Rethink Your Drink Quiz for Parents