Fruit gums, Polo mints and the occasional toffee.
They were my parents' secret weapon when it came to long church services or formal events and fidgety toddlers.
Priest spending too long on his sermon? Pass the preschooler a Polo mint. Long speech using even longer words guaranteed to bore the three-year-old to loud, distracting tears? Give them a toffee to unwrap and chew on.
Many a potential meltdown was stopped in its tracks by the rustle of a sweet wrapper and a promise of more, if we would only stay still and quiet for a few more minutes. That's not to say my parents completely escaped the disapproving looks of the blue-rinse brigade - the older generation who spent their time at church in full judgment mode, muttering "seen and not heard" the moment a child moved a millimetre during the prayers of the penitent. They still got their share of loud tuts and murmurs of disapproval courtesy of my and my brother's inability to sit still and quiet for more than 10 minutes at a time, but the lollies certainly reduced the level of "parents these days" stares and commentary aimed at them.
Fast forward more than a few years and I became the giver out of lollies during painfully long services and ceremonies to my own tamariki. Having moved more than a few thousand miles from where I grew up, the Polo mint and Rowntree's fruit gums were replaced with jet planes and MInties, but the result was the same. Silent children, save for the odd wrapper rustle, and limited disapproval from the older generation around us.
Any such disapproval wasn't just limited thanks to the lollies being doled out, but also because our parenting was being watched by only a few. Our fellow congregants, or the rest of the audience and invited guests at a formal event. Not an audience of millions, with television and paparazzi cameras all zoomed in on us waiting for our small child to do something completely toddler-like such as thumbing their nose or blowing a raspberry at one of us. No, that questionable honour went to the Duchess of Cambridge over the many, probably incredibly boring to the average four-year-old, Queen's platinum jubilee events this month.
It seemed the world's eyes were on the duchess and the adorably bored and fidgety Prince Louis, and the criticism wasn't far behind. The last of the Queen's guards hadn't even removed their bearskins after the final parade before the Twitterati weighed in on the alleged "poor parenting " and "wild behaviour of Prince Louis".
"Cute now, but not when he's a teenager," warned the headlines, and the "parenting experts" (translation: people who have never had a child themselves, let alone had to parent one quite so publicly) were out in force explaining exactly what the duchess was doing wrong.
So what, exactly, did she do wrong?
If the parenting police are to be believed, that is. From taking the child to the events in the first instance, to every glance or look the duchess gave her son during said events, nothing was good enough for the perfect parents and armchair experts out there.
Personally, I think she did a great job. Especially when compared with my own "parenting toddlers in front of others" experience over the years. Not once did I see her mutter threats about Father Christmas, the Easter bunny AND the tooth fairy all watching, she didn't pull out her mobile and give him Candy Crushing rights, there was no subtle shift away from him to pretend he wasn't, in fact, her toddler but a random small child who just happened to be sitting by her, nor did she pull the age-old "hand him to his father" trick. She smiled, kept going, and tried her best. In heels and a fancy hat no less.
So to the parenting police and the practically perfect parents everywhere - leave this working mother of three alone - she is doing a darn good job actually. Also, if you are going to criticise - at least be inclusive about it - I didn't see anyone critiquing Prince William's parenting - yet not only is he equally responsible, he is the parent who has an entire lifetime of experience in such formal events with the world's press watching.
Perhaps, however, in preparation for future events, the duchess might consider finding space in her handbag for a packet of Polos or the like. And if she forgets, I have it on good authority Prince Louis's beloved "Gan Gan" might just be able to source a marmalade sandwich to keep him occupied for a minute or three.