No Dessert Until Dinner's All Gone
The real deal: Using sweets as a reward -- or withholding them as a punishment -- could predispose your child to future food-related problems such as binge eating and even obesity. "You don't want your child as sociating desserts with happy times and other foods, like vegetables, with conflict," says Joan Carter, R.D., an instructor in the department of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine, in Houston. Instead, offer your child a variety of healthy foods at meals, and let him decide what and how much he eats. Focus on the overall quality of his diet across several days -- not on how many asparagus spears are left on his plate. Ideally, dessert should be reserved as a "sometimes" food that's served in small portions after a healthy meal. Forget about banning dessert altogether. "That's bound to make sweets more attractive," Carter says.