Do Kids Really Need Snacks At Every Event?

Snacks, snacks are everywhere

What is the deal with kids and snacks?  Snacks seem to be at almost every event in a child’s world. There are sports snacks; which can include a half-time snack and a post-game snack. There are camp snacks; which may include the recommendation of bringing two snacks and a lunch to all-day camps, and there are the classroom snacks; where parents sign up to bring daily treats.

Snacks and Pavlov’s dogs

Are we conditioning children to become instantly hungry every time they hear the word “snack”?  I immediately think of the Pavlov’s Conditioned Reflex Response Experiment, where scientist induced dogs to salivate at the sound of a ringing bell which signaled to the dog that food would follow.

As an unscientific experiment, I said the word “snack” to my children to see if they would salivate or had immediate growling stomachs, but my results were inconclusive.  They did, however, seem excited and willing to consume the snack of peanut butter and apples that I was offering.

The Survey: To Snack or Not to Snack?

To further research the topic of snacks, I decided to go out and ask people what they thought about snacks being present at most child centered events. The reaction I got was stronger than expected. Nine out of the ten people I asked, including a camp director and a coach, thought snacks were not only unnecessary, but distracting and sent the wrong message.

The coach explained that his nine year old, boy’s  soccer team, who plays an hour long game does not really need a post-game donut or even a granola bar.

“Isn’t having fun playing a game reward enough?” the coach asked.

Others felt that there is a lot of pressure on parents to sign up for a team or class snack day.

“No one wants to be that one buzz kill parent who doesn’t sign up for a snack day because they don’t think it’s necessary,” stated one frustrated father.

Yet, many people shared that when they had suggested to the other team or class parents that they didn’t feel snacks were necessary, they found that many people were grateful that someone was willing to say something.  Snacks were eliminated and everyone was happy.

However, one parent felt that “appropriate” group snacks of fruits or veggies gave kids a better understanding of how to eat healthier between meals. It is a great argument for snacks, providing you can get people to follow a strict guideline of what is an “appropriate” snack.

Besides determining if a snack is healthy or not, I still question how often kids need to eat.

A Day Without a Snack.

I had a recent personal experience with a snack, or in this case, lack of a snack. I was picking my son up from a two hour sports camp and the first thing he said when he got in the car was,

“You know I was the only kid without a snack at camp?”  His tone sounded as if he was accusing me of child neglect.

My blank, non responsive stare was not what he was hoping for, so he threw out another comment hoping to invoke a guilty mother reaction.

“I had to sit and watch everyone else eat their snack and all I had was water,” he said sadly.

My response once again was a non response. I did not feel guilty that he didn’t have a snack. I was confident that the egg, toast and fruit breakfast he ate had sustained him through camp.

“Mom, you don’t seem to care that I didn’t have a snack?” he said in a desperate tone.

“Honey, your camp was only two hours. If you were at home you would not be eating in between breakfast and lunch, so why do you think you needed a snack today?” I questioned.

“Because everyone else had one!” he answered.

My kids know that making that particular argument is NEVER a good way to get me to cave on anything, and I think the stink eye look I gave him reminded him of that fact.

I Just Don’t Think Snacks are Required at Everything.

In addition to the idea that snacks are not always necessary, we should look at the simple economics of buying snack foods. Many schools and organizations require snack foods to be store bought and often individually packaged. This type of food is usually very expensive. During these difficult economic times I believe group snacks should be dropped. If a child cannot go without a snack, or he/she has a medical condition that requires them to eat often, they should be allowed to bring one from home, but not everyone needs one.

What do You Think?

We, at Domestic Square Peg want to hear what you think!

Do you think children are offered snacks too often at child centered events? Feel free to elaborate on your answer in the comment section. Thank you. I look forward to reading through them while enjoying a snack.

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5 Responses to Do Kids Really Need Snacks At Every Event?

  1. Kim peeler says:

    While I may be the mom that’s brings snacks for my kids while we watch their brothers play sports,( it’s cheaper than the snack bar), I don’t think snacks after a tball games etc.are needed. Why do we need to feed them snack after a game that either ends right. before lunch or dinner, and why should we have to bring one for the entire team. I am ok with bringing things like oranges for the football team during halftime, cause well they do work up an appetite. No one wants to be the coach or team mom that finally says enough with the snacks.

  2. Jen says:

    Ah, the snack question. My child would love to get rid of meals all together and rely on snacks only for all nourishment … let’s also remember that most snacks are in pre-packaged form. Rarely do you see a snack that is a piece of fruit or a baggie of veggies. If that were the case, I wouldn’t mind them so much.At our house, we have the “fruit bowl is always an option snack” policy. It is amazing how much better my kids eat at meals when they do not snack. In my opinion, the old chicken and egg is at play here … families don’t really sit down together for meals any more so they really are just eating a series of snacks.
    In the old days of the 70s, my mom carried around a cold hot dog and a packaged slice of american cheese in her ‘handbag’ … and that was in the Miami heat. It was only offered to me if I was throwing a ‘fit and falling in it’ as my Dad used to say. Snacks at every turn are making are kids less healthy…they never have the hungry sensation and don’t know how to moderate themselves. thanks for the post- it’s important for us all to look at this.

  3. Ann says:

    I was THAT Mom. I said enough of the sugary snacks and drinks for my son’s 8 year old team. Secretly, moms told me that they were happy that I made this stand. I don’t care if I am THAT mom. My kids are used to it!

  4. Phyllis says:

    I think this is a great subject to talk about these days….seems to me, the more you see this snack epidemic, the more you see obese children.

  5. Katie H says:

    This is great! When I was younger, snacks were by far my favorite part of soccer games- probably a good indication I wasn’t the next Mia Hamm… That being said, why the heck are we conditioning our kids to think they deserve/need food so often? We are creating unhealthy eating habits in our kids.

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