How to handle cool drinks / sugary drinks

It’s many parents’ never-ending battle. How do you manage cold drinks?

It comes up in every course and every conversation I have with parents.

I always swore: my kids will never drink cooldrink (soft drinks).

Guess what? Life happened, and they drink cooldrink and are alive to tell the tale.

I don’t have to tell you the reasons we would rather they didn’t consume these drinks regularly.

Here’s our story through the stages, where we are now and lessons I learned.

We rarely if ever, have cold drinks at home, unless for guests. Our main drink is water, once in a while, some passion fruit cordial is added, and for occasions like parties etc.

But EVERY WEEK we go to friends for meals, or birthday parties, or events etc and there it is! We recently spent a few months living at my parents, and there were bottles of the stuff – everywhere.

STAGE 1 – No cold drinks, ever:
Worked perfectly for my first kid, till about age 3. It was impossible to implement for subsequent kids (for me at least).

STAGE 2 – Water it down:
Water it down – a lot. Works for younger kids, well. Still works for my 3-year-old if he doesn’t realize it.
STAGE 3 – Limit it drastically:
On occasion, I would allow one portion of a limited amount. E.g. half a glass of coke at lunch. This worked for ages, but it was annoying as I felt like the armed guard of cold drinks. Constantly being harassed by my kids for it, negotiated with, and begged just was a pain in the neck.

STAGE 4 – Unlimited opportunities on occasion:
We are now thankfully back at home and water again is the only drink on hand. I decided that I was done with fighting and limiting and that by making it so restricted I was actually increasing interest in these drinks.

By making it so restricted I was actually increasing interest in these drinks.

So I did something radical.

I told my 5 and 7-year-old: you can have as much as you want (as long as you are considerate of other people, e.g. not finishing a bottle of Appeltizer alone). At first, my daughter couldn’t believe what she hearing. She filled her glass to the top and gulped it down. A few times of this happening, and I noticed they began to take a few sips and go off to play. Maybe they would come back for more, maybe not. But it was not an issue. I still, when I can, give my 3-year-old mostly water with a taste of it if he doesn’t realize and make a fuss.

And I got to stop playing jailkeeper of the cold drink.

This is what worked for OUR family. It very possibly looks different for yours. It may change in a few years for us too.

Postscript: A few days ago, my daughter said to me rather crossly: “Why don’t you ever buy cooldrink?” Calmly, I answered: “Because I am not comfortable buying that for our home.” I did not say: “Because its full of sugar and will ruin your teeth and is poison.” I choose WHAT to serve and buy and WHEN to serve it. I do not have to justify I my choices ever – I don’t justify or explain why tonight we eating chicken patties, and tomorrow we eat lamb stew. It’s my job. And I am confident that I am allowed to, and SHOULD I also said: “Remind me, and we can buy Appeltizer when guests come on Friday night” because that is something I am okay with having at home once in a while. I also said: “What’s your favourite cold drink? Mine is freezing coke with ice cubes in it.” She gave a huge smile and said she loves Fanta.

More lessons that we don’t have to be scared to talk about “junk” foods or wish we could have more of them. I still am in charge of the WHAT or WHEN.

How do you handle cooldrink in your home? How did your parents handle it when you were growing up?

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