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Questions and answers

You asked and we have the answers. Click on the question to reveal answers from our START experts:

Peadar Maxwell – Parenting expert and psychologist with HSE

Why is rewarding kids with treats a bad idea?

Peadar explains that rewarding with treats is not a good idea because it creates an association between unhealthy food and minding yourself, and it teaches children to eat when they are not hungry.

What do I do if my kids won’t eat unless there’s promise of a treat?

Peadar says parents need to take time to change these habits and prepare their children for the changes.

What do I do if I use treats to get my kids to behave?

Peadar advises parents to make changes slowly and in tiny steps.

What do I when my kids react by saying I’m the worst, I feel so guilty?

Peadar says children reacting with big feelings is normal. He says we should empathise with them and then redirect them.

What do I do if I’m always strict but my partner gives treats anyway?

Peadar says this is a common dilemma, and that parents should discuss their approach away from the children and find an agreed approach to treats. 

Dr Aileen McGloin - safefood

Is it okay to give small treats a couple of times a day?

Aileen talks about how much treats we should be giving our children and suggests how we can gradually cut down on the amount of treats they get each day. 

What do you mean by a “treat”?

Aileen explains what is meant by a “treat” food – food that is high in fat, sugar and salt, and it of little nutritional value.

Is it okay to give treats on occasions like Halloween, Christmas and Easter?

Aileen says yes it’s okay to have treats on big occasions. She says the issue is that giving treats has become a daily occurrence rather than something given on special occasions.

What do you mean by saying "It takes a hero to be the bad guy"?

Aileen explains how it can take a heroic effort to say no to children when the ask for treats – especially when treats so hard to avoid in shops, activities etc.

Why are you targeting treats? Is it another thing for parents to feel guilty about?

Aileen that the awareness campaign is not about making parents guilty but supporting them to cut back on unhealthy food choices.

© The Food Safety Promotion Board