Tip 8: Don’t get tricked by advertising

Advertising influences what children eat and in which quantities. Advertising is not only what you see on TV, but also at the supermarket and in amusement parks. Advertisements are generally fun and appealing, and they encourage your child to ask for unhealthy food. This section contains tips on how to limit the impact of advertising.

TV advertising

While watching TV, your children regularly see food ads. How should you, as a parent, deal with these ads?

  • Try to replay TV programmes later and skip the ads.
  • Set clear rules and explain them to your child. You could say, “We are watching these programmes on replay so that we can clearly agree on what you can watch and for how long.”
  • If your child is a little older, you can explain the goal of advertising, for example by saying, “Advertisers really want you to buy their products, but not everything they say is true.”

Advertising at the supermarket

Grocery shopping with your child can be fun, but sometimes it can be difficult. After all, your child sees tasty treats all around and may be tempted by the fun packaging of biscuits and sweets.

Here are some tips for grocery shopping with your child:

  • Before you head to the store, write a shopping list. Tell your child you will only buy the things you’ve written on the list.
  • Before you go shopping, agree on what your child can and cannot do, for example, “I love it when you help me find products, but before you put something in the trolley, you need to show it to me.”
  • Pay your child a compliment if they’re helping or behaving well.
  • Is your child being difficult, for example by begging for sweets? Then clearly remind them of the agreement you have made. Explain you’re going to continue looking for the products on your list. Then ignore your child and keep walking.
  • Don’t give in. If you’ve made clear agreements, your child will eventually stop whining.

Jorik, father of Zoë (3 years old)

Zoë absolutely loves the film Frozen! Last week we went grocery shopping and when we walked past the biscuit aisle, she saw Frozen sponge cakes. She immediately said, “Daddy, I want those!” I showed her my shopping list and said, “Look Zoë, the Frozen sponge cakes are not on our list, but we do need crackers. Can you get them for me?” At first she was still a bit whiny, but later she did a good job helping me with the shopping.

Advertising on a day out

There is also a lot of advertising at the playground, amusement park and pool, for example for tasty ice cream, sandwiches and waffles. In order not to spoil the fun, it might be a good idea to set clear rules before going out.

Tips for a fun day out:

  • Be well-prepared. Take your own food along and make sure you have plenty of water. If your children get hungry or thirsty, you can give them something you brought with you.
  • Make clear agreements beforehand on the tasty treats you are going to buy, for example, “We’re taking sandwiches with us and we’ll buy an ice cream at the playground”.

You don’t need to buy sweet treats if you don’t want to. You can easily take a tasty lunch and some sweets along and still enjoy your day out. After all, a day at the playground or at an amusement park is already a very special treat, isn’t it?