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Ask Denene: I Sneak Sweets to My Kid!

Q: My husband and I decided we wouldn't feed our 1-year-old sugary treats, but I find myself slipping her cookies! Embarrassingly, I do it to win her love. What can I do?

A: I've got two words for you: Stop. It. There's no shame in giving your daughter a sweet every once in a while. Kids like sugar. Heck, most humans like sugar. But by making a rule that denies her treats, and then feeding them to her in secret, you're setting her up for a lifetime of "guilt" eating -- you know, healthy in public but hog-wild in private.

Now, as for why you slip her those sweets, here's what you need to know: Kids the world over love their moms even if they're served broccoli at every meal! No cookie will win you more long-term affection. Neither will it save you from the messy complications that are part and parcel of this relationship. Your daughter will have some days when she chooses Daddy over you, and others when she goes back and forth between liking you and being likable, and hating you and being a total pain in your patootie. How can you keep love strong? Take her to the park. Read to her. Snuggle. The usual mom stuff. This will go miles further than trying to bribe her with a sneaked treat.

Denene Millner has judgment-free advice for the trickiest kid (and grown-up!) behaviors. Send her your questions at momsquad@parenting.com.

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